ISLAMABAD: Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif ratified on Tuesday the death sentences of 13 men convicted by military courts of involvement in acts of terrorism. One of the convicts was sentenced for his involvement in the killing of 10 foreign hikers and their Pakistani guide.

All of the condemned, except one, were affiliated with the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and were involved in acts of terrorism, including the killing of foreign tourists at Nanga Parbat, attack on Saidu Sharif Airport, destruction of schools and attacks on personnel of armed forces, law-enforcement agencies and civilians, according to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

With the latest verdicts, the number of convictions by military courts has risen to 65 — 61 of them have been sentenced to death and four to life imprisonment. Eight of the convicts, who were involved in the Army Public School (APS) massacre, were executed last December.

The military courts have announced verdicts in 34 cases this year, already surpassing last year’s figure of 27. In 2015, they were empowered to try terrorists for two years in the aftermath of the APS tragedy.

CLIMBERS’ MURDER CASE: One of the more important cases in which conviction was announced by a military court was regarding the killing of 10 foreign trekkers and their Pakistani guide in an attack on a mountaineer base camp on Nanga Parbat, the world’s ninth-tallest mountain, on June 22, 2013, by a group of up to 16 militants. The deceased included two Chinese, one Nepalese, one American citizen of Chinese origin, three Ukrainians, two Slovaks, a Lithuanian and their Pakistani guide.

One of the accused, identified as Irfanullah, son of Khudayar, was sentenced to death by a military court for his involvement in the attack carried out by the TTP’s Jundul Hafsa faction to avenge the death of TTP’s deputy emir, Waliur Rehman, in a drone attack.

The prime suspect, Habib-ur-Rehman, had escaped from Gilgit jail in February last year, while one of his accomplices was killed in the jailbreak attempt.

In 2013, officials had identified Qaribullah as the mastermind of the attack and said he had been taken into custody. The status of his trial is currently unclear.

The ISPR, meanwhile, said that Irfan was also charged with possession of firearms and had “admitted his offences before a magistrate and the trial court”. Irfan was said to be an active member of the TTP.

HELICOPTER ATTACK: A military court, meanwhile, convicted and sentenced Ikramullah, son of Habibullah, also a TTP militant, for causing death and injuries to officers, soldiers and civilians as well as damage to helicopters.

The ISPR did not say in which attack he was involved. According to a source, however, he was found guilty of attacking an Mi-17 chopper in Orakzai Agency.

Twenty-six soldiers, including an officer, were killed and six others injured when the helicopter transporting them from Parachinar to Peshawar crashed in Ferozkhel area of Orakzai Agency. The attack was then claimed by the Taliban’s Tariq Afridi group.

SECTARIAN CONVICTION: The latest ISPR statement contained one conviction related to sectarian attacks in Quetta; that of Haider, son of Daim Khan. It did not identify his affiliation even though the agency has lately been naming groups to which sectarian convicts were associated with.

A brief of others convicted by the military courts, as provided by ISPR, is as follows:

Mushtaq Ahmed, son of Muhammad Miraj: The convict was an active member of the TTP. He was involved in the attack on Saidu Sharif Airport, killing employees of the Meteorological Department and destroying an educational institution which resulted in the deaths of civilians and injuries to soldiers. He was also guilty of possession of firearms and explosives. He admitted his offences before a magistrate and the trial court and was tried on six charges and awarded the death penalty.

Muhammad Nawaz, son of Gul Muhammad: He too was an active TTP member and was involved in attacks on the armed forces which resulted in the deaths of soldiers. He was also found to be in possession of firearms and explosives. The convict admitted his offences before the magistrate and the trial court, was tried on three charges and awarded the death penalty.

Taj Gul, son of Sultan Zareen: The convict was an active TTP member and was involved in attacks on law-enforcement agencies, which resulted in the deaths of police constables and levies personnel. He was also guilty of possessing firearms, ammunition and explosives. He admitted his offences before the magistrate and the trial court and was tried on four charges and sentenced to death.

Asghar Khan, son of Azizur Rehman; Ahmed Ali, son of Bakhat Karam; and Haroon ur Rasheed, son of Mian Said Usman, were active TTP members. They were involved in attacks on armed forces, law-enforcement agencies and the destruction of an educational institution which resulted in several deaths and injuries to soldiers and civilians. They also possessed firearms and explosives. All three were awarded the death sentence.

Bakht-e-Ameer, son of Ameer Zareen: An active TTP member, he was involved in attacks on armed forces personnel which resulted in deaths and injuries to officers and soldiers. He was also found in possession of explosives. The convict admitted his offences before the magistrate and the trial court, was tried on three charges and awarded the death sentence.

Aziz Khan, son of Ashber: The convict was an active member of the TTP. He was involved in an attack on armed forces personnel and the destruction of a communications system in Gulibagh which caused deaths and injuries to soldiers. He was also in possession of a suicide jacket. The convict admitted his offences before the magistrate and the trial court. He was tried on three charges and awarded the death sentence.

Fazal-e-Ghaffar, son of Shehzada: An active member of TTP, he was involved in an attack on the armed forces which caused death and injuries to soldiers. He was also in possession of a suicide jacket. The convict admitted his offences before the magistrate and the trial court and was tried on four charges and awarded the death sentence.

Asghar Khan, son of Ahmad Jan: The convict was also an active member of the TTP. He was involved in attacks on armed forces, law-enforcement agencies and destruction of educational institutions which caused death and injuries to soldiers and civilians. He was tried on five charges and awarded the death sentence.

Published in Dawn, March 16th, 2016

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