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Five ‘IS-linked’ navy officers get death sentence in dockyard attack case

Updated May 24, 2016 05:36pm


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ISLAMABAD: A Navy tribunal sentenced five officers to death in the Sept 6, 2014, Karachi Naval Dockyard attack case, father of one of the convicts said on Monday.

Retired Major Saeed Ahmed told Dawn that in a trial his son, Sub-Lieutenant Hammad Ahmed, and four other naval officers had been convicted of the naval dockyard attack that took place on Defence Day around two years ago.

He said the five were charged with having links with the militant Islamic State group, mutiny, hatching a conspiracy and carrying weapons in the dockyard.

However, according to media reports, the attackers were purportedly planning to hijack the warship PNS Zulfiqar to use it in an attack on one of the US navy’s refuel ships. Two militants were killed and four others were apprehended by security personnel.

Mr Saeed said that the naval authorities did not provide his son the right to a fair trial.

“I wrote a letter to the Judge Advocate General (JAG) of the navy on August 15, 2015, asking him to provide the opportunity of a defence counsel to my son,” he said. “The navy JAG on Sept 21 replied that the option of defence counsel would be available at the time of trial.”

Mr Saeed said that he was waiting for the commencement of the trial when someone recently informed him that his son had been shifted to the Karachi central prison.

The retired army officer came to know about the conclusion of the trial and capital punishment when he went to Karachi and met his son and his four colleagues — Irfanullah, Muhammad Hammad, Arsalan Nazeer and Hashim Naseer — in prison.

“My son told me that a naval court had awarded death penalty to him and four other officers after a secret trial,” he claimed. “The convicted officers informed me that the naval court concluded the trial on April 12 and promulgated the sentence on April 14.”

He said that naval authorities did not provide him copies of the proceedings of the trial when he approached them for the same.

The convict’s father said that he would file an appeal against the judgement before the naval court of appeal.

He claimed that his son and others had been made scapegoats, as this was not the first time when such security lapses came to light.

He said the five officers had been in the navy for only four to five years and they were not capable of seizing a warship and using it for a banned outfit.

In July 2015, the naval authorities informed the Islamabad High Court (IHC) that a ‘missing’ sub-lieutenant, Hafiz Ehsanullah Sajjad, was in their custody in connection with the naval dockyard attack case.

Safia Ismail, the wife of the ‘missing’ officer, had filed a petition before the IHC stating that her husband was detained by the navy without any charge. She said that he was taken away from his residence in Gulshan-i-Iqbal, Karachi, by “some people in plain clothes on the evening of Sept 6, 2014”.

She said that her father, who was also a retired Navy officer, had tried to ascertain his whereabouts but to no avail.

Meanwhile, officials of the Pakistan Navy’s directorate of public relations were not available when Dawn tried to contact them for official confirmation.

Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2016


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Comments (72) Closed

Cyrus the Virus May 24, 2016 07:45am

Loved it!!.

Hamza May 24, 2016 08:12am


sajjad akbar May 24, 2016 08:12am

Speechless I am!! Military courts are quite capable of doing this. Not holding a fair trial means there is something wrong somewhere.

My sympathies for the father IF his son is innocent.

Hamza May 24, 2016 08:50am

Very biased article.... Only portray one side of the story..

Layman May 24, 2016 08:54am

I have got no clue how justice takes place here? Who to braided and who to not.

BK May 24, 2016 09:08am

Military courts can't provide justice to trail, because those are one way proceedings. For speedy trials justice being denied and innocent also get punished.

Ash20 May 24, 2016 09:14am

This is serious and Pakistan want to give authority and custody of tactical nuclear weapons to similar officers.

sheraz May 24, 2016 09:16am

Justice has been served!

ZAFAR May 24, 2016 09:23am

Wow, Pak navy officers are attacking Karachi on behalf of IS. This is beyond wild imaginations and shows the dire situation.

Zak May 24, 2016 09:37am

Doubt navy would convict without solid evidence. Sorry for the families, but these wayward officers betrayed the trust of the navy as a professional institution and brought I'll repute .

Khalid Latif May 24, 2016 09:48am

Does the father believe that the PN investigation, trial and decision were fake? He could not be aware of his son and the colleagues' operation. What is he going to mention in his appeal to the appleals' court?

Tahir A May 24, 2016 09:53am

Tyrants should never be spared.

neutral May 24, 2016 10:15am

They are an aggrieved family and have their own story to tell. Intelligence authorities hardly take that type of action against the service personnel, specially Officers, but have their own rules and regulations. Besides, when there is smoke - there is fire.

Syed Zafar Kazmi U.S.A May 24, 2016 10:17am

Great news.

Gypsy May 24, 2016 10:20am

Good Decision. This should send a strong signal to all

A Shah May 24, 2016 10:24am

Innocent freedom fighters.

Akbar Khan May 24, 2016 11:01am

In Pakistan, Everything is secret now a days. - Justice Trial - Military systems selection - Appointment of people at key position.

Obviously we are a secret state. So we love our secrets.

Asif Ahmed May 24, 2016 11:18am

The trial was fair and the convicts accepted their guilt. Moreover, the evidences are abundant to conclude that the entire coup was planned with the intentions of putting Pakistan in a precarious situation. There were lives lost defending when these terrorists were discovered onboard the ship. No Mercy!

Sidiqque May 24, 2016 11:20am

More F16 will definitely save Pakistan. Hence we need more F16s and load full of bombs. Load is a Very Big Load. We are planning to give one nuclear bomb to all our citizens. If they want they can sell it to anybody for food and water. During winter any body can explode one so that some warm atmosphere will be created. Very WARM ATMOSPHERE.

Ahmad May 24, 2016 11:35am

I feel sorry for the father but not the son.

pervez May 24, 2016 11:53am

Why do u want a fair trail. Was it fair for your son to commit treason againot his country and his people? by the sword you die by the sword

Suren Sahni May 24, 2016 12:41pm

@Hamza military courts will not talk to the press

BK May 24, 2016 12:42pm

"Justice must not only be done, but justice seems to be done, where the accused and judge both are in same uniform and same mental discipline". It is possible, if those judgments are open for scrutiny by civil courts.

sajjad akbar May 24, 2016 12:46pm

@Hamza share with us if you know the other side of the story.

Let me tell you the military way since you are not familiar with it. It is not only these young officers who are to be punished, the first person to be punished is / are their Commanding Officers who failed to keep an eye on these youngsters. After all, a trained officer is an asset and it is respective CO's duty to take care of it.

What happened to their COs, no one knows. Re not allowing the accused to defend himself, this is something serious. This cannot happen in any civilized society.

zeeshandxb May 24, 2016 12:52pm

this is a one sided story. we cannot claim his son is innocent without knowing the other side

Mumbai indian May 24, 2016 01:08pm

It's a verybserioua allegation. Though I cannot imagine 5 people "hijacking" a Navy Ship and taking it under control. Too dumb a plan to work. Secondly, it's unlikely that son of a army officer, joins navy and then becomes an ISIS recruit. There's more to this than what's revealed.


Timeto stopthis May 24, 2016 01:16pm

They live in a democracy and have a right to a fair trial. Its sad to see this happening more and more often in Pakistan. In any country in the world, people are assumed to be innocent until proven guilty. Why should it be any different in Pakistan?

Timeto stopthis May 24, 2016 01:18pm

Even terrorists guilty of attacking and killing several people in Mumbai were given a fair and public trial. Why all these secret trials? If they are guilty, have an open trial and let the truth be known to everyone. When you hush things up, there is always suspicion whether the trial was fair and just.

muhammad farooq May 24, 2016 01:25pm

What is the reason for secret trial when their crime or crimes have already been made public. Will open trail expose some high ups?

asgher May 24, 2016 01:33pm

One thing i have learned is that nobody innocent gets the hook by our agencies. You are involved that's why you are picked!

Interesting how dawn published the plea of an innocent father..

Gustaakh May 24, 2016 01:52pm

What a one-sided repot ! Where's the Navy's version or are we just to believe everything the convicts' families are saying ?

Timeto stopthis May 24, 2016 01:56pm

They should receive a fair and open trail. All this secrecy is hardly going to build confidence in the system.

Khwarezmi May 24, 2016 02:56pm

They not only failed their country but were enemy of their country. Well deserved if you ask me!

Parvez May 24, 2016 02:59pm

Out of the three forces the Navy is the most radicalized.

waqar May 24, 2016 03:03pm

I know one of them. ? very sad..........

Harmony-1© May 24, 2016 03:03pm

@BK - This is court-martial. These trials are never held in a civilian court anyway.

The End is Near May 24, 2016 03:10pm

Justice finally served.

Timeto stopthis May 24, 2016 03:25pm

The parents know best. I would believe them. Perhaps their children are innocent scapegoats.

Humanity May 24, 2016 04:01pm

@Gustaakh In a country like Pakistan, if military ever has anything to say, I kind of think that it will surely be published unless they don't want it to be published. But it's your country and you would probably know better. What is your opinion?

Ali Dublin May 24, 2016 04:04pm

Well his son was only in navy for 4 or 5 years. What about you father..

Shahzad Khaliq May 24, 2016 04:16pm

@Akbar Khan comments from a person, having high IQ level and having deep awareness of Pakistani system of things...

Gfellow May 24, 2016 04:17pm

Mr Saeed said that the naval authorities did not provide his son the right to a fair trial.

And Pakistan was so upset at Bangladesh for unfair trial. Atleast there was a real trial in Bangladesh.

Salman May 24, 2016 04:39pm

Imagine a free and fair trial in which our civil court specialize in. What a joke, our civil courts would have set them free like thousands of others and would have said "we cannot bare the pressure and threats coming from terrorist. Our judiciary has destroyed the justice system in Pakistan and they should be kept away from sensitive matters. Every Chief Justice that retires is accused of corruption. We CANNOT let these people destroy the military institution. Hope that one day we will have a clean justice system in Pakistan, until then, let the military handle its own matters.

Sense May 24, 2016 04:48pm

Fair trial is important but it's sad these young men went that route ,now is the time to pay for their deeds

The End is Near May 24, 2016 04:48pm

Justice served.

Sense May 24, 2016 04:54pm

@Timeto stopthis every parent says their child is innocent,every man in jail says he is innocent

Zulfiqar Ali Qureshi May 24, 2016 05:33pm

@Hamza The same artical says that they contacted Navy's media wing but they didnt responded. So still you think its bias ?

brar May 24, 2016 05:33pm

Perhaps the common man does not know how the commissioned officers are selected, the selection board select the cream and the training is also rigorous hence it is impossible to believe that all the five were dull headed, they were not ORs and some times the innocent honest officers pays the price for their honesty and I know one such case in which a Major was sent to mental hospital and inspite of efforts by his family those who planned all this ensured it that he remains in hospital and than shunted out his only fault was that he declined to be a party to the mis deeds of his seniors.

ISRA May 24, 2016 06:10pm

@Timeto stopthis : There is a difference between the Military and Civil cases. This was a Military trial and those are done the same way around the world. It does not fall under the Civil case.

Abraham Haque May 24, 2016 06:14pm

@Zak there are a whole lot more in all branches of military you have not seen anything yet

Al Fatmi May 24, 2016 06:22pm

This is what you get for high treason.

AAM May 24, 2016 06:47pm

I don't buy it. One sided story. Justice served.

Good Job

Bipul May 24, 2016 06:48pm

I think military court would have taken the right decision. But a convict (and his family) deserves a fair trial and at least a copy of the proceedings. If someone's son is on death row, father deserves to know on what grounds.

Khan May 24, 2016 06:52pm

The boy Hammad was my class fellow in cadet college. He was a handsome and very capable young man back then. After joining navy I heard he grew a beard and became religious. I also remember his father. I hope his sentence would be reduced. Although I don't know the details of the case but still i believe that even if he had any link to that incident, he might have been brainwashed. Hammad's father is a retired army major and his younger brother is also in the navy.He and all the others deserve a fair trail May 24, 2016 07:27pm

@Ash20 Well said...!!

Rajeev Deshpande May 24, 2016 07:36pm

Oh, and all the time I was thinking Jadhav must have done it!

khyber May 24, 2016 07:58pm

I am shocked that most people commenting don't know the basics of Military law. Since these were military/naval personnel, they were court martialed. A defense counsel is assigned by military. The father claims are self serving and don't make any sense.

Ahsan Gul May 24, 2016 08:12pm

Defense forces are our first and last resort of stability. We expect a little from common man but a lot from defense personnel. If defense personnel start acting like Taliban and terrorists then no mercy should be granted to them. Make their execution an exemplary one for the whole pakistan. Good job.

aqeel May 24, 2016 08:38pm

@BK : your proposition infers that anyone or everyone who has ever been presented before a military court was found guilty of charges

$aifuddin Takhtawala May 24, 2016 09:23pm

Justice delayed, justice denied. Justice in hurry, justice burried.

Mirza May 24, 2016 10:27pm

This is how our forces operate. This was a clear cut case so why the secrecy.

Sachin May 25, 2016 01:36am

The biggest fear is some rogue officers like this will trigger a India-Pak nuclear war and each will believe the other started it first. Hope that nuclear weapons are only in the hands of the highest grade ethical officers and continuously screened and spied to make sure their loyalties have not shifted. Only a democartically elected PM should have the software codes to launch nuclear weapons.

M.Jamal May 25, 2016 01:47am

The story will only unfold when the cassette is rewinded back to find the shortcomings in appointment and training of these guilty officers.

Tariq May 25, 2016 02:07am

Good job,

Ahsan Gul May 25, 2016 05:27am

@Timeto stopthis - I am parent and raised my children to the best of my capabilities and I cannot say for surety what is going on in my children's head since they are over 20 years. No attempt on my part to negate what you have stated in your comments. Growing people get influenced by society and social contacts. Our religious leaders play a prominent role for growing people- once I was 18 years old. Islam that we practice, 95% do not know. Majority of people say prayers all their lives without knowing the meanings. Making long story short, how would you resolve an issue where defense personnel whom we trust are the ones to hurt us and Pakistan? Very difficult situation for the parents. Sincerely

Sabeeka Nazeer May 25, 2016 09:48am

@Harmony-1© this is not just court-martial, its a death penalty! a fair public trial MUST be held allowing the convicted to hire their own defence counsel.

Sabeeka Nazeer May 25, 2016 09:59am

@Asif Ahmed My brother was neither a terrorist, nor found on board the ship Zulfiquar where this took place, nor did he ever accept such false charges as waging war against Pakistan and mutiny, yet he's been given the sentence! we are making an appeal for a fair trial and truth shall surface soon.

gitmo May 25, 2016 11:47am

The navy should have released these officers, when they repeatedly requested retirement from the navy, before ultimately resorting to this.

Logic May 25, 2016 11:57am

Bombing and sentencing people with death penalty without giving them a chance to defend themselves... Thats Pakistan for you...

Random May 25, 2016 12:20pm

Truth is stranger than fiction.

El Cid May 25, 2016 02:30pm

@Sabeeka Nazeer: This is not about terrorism. Nothing to do with fair trial or justice. Sabeeka, its about smoke and mirrors: Scapegoating and obfuscation.

Muhammad Duja May 25, 2016 08:01pm

@pervez Well said and agree 101%. PAF should do the same if any found.