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Military courts have three months to decide 185 cases, NA told

Updated December 14, 2018

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Defence Minister Pervez Khattak says a total of 717 terrorism cases to military courts since Zarb-i-Azb. — File photo
Defence Minister Pervez Khattak says a total of 717 terrorism cases to military courts since Zarb-i-Azb. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: Military authorities have to decide 185 terrorism-related cases over the next three months as the two-year term of military courts will expire in March.

In a written reply to a question raised by MNA Mohsin Dawar, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak informed the National Assembly on Wednesday that since the launch of the military operation Zarb-i-Azb the interior ministry had referred a total of 717 cases of terrorism to the military courts.

Of the total cases, 185 are still under process and they have to be decided before March next year when the two-year term of the courts will expire.

It is yet to be decided whether the military courts will be given another extension similar to 2017 when they were extended for two years.

Giving details of the cases decided by military courts, the minister said that a total of 478 cases had been decided, which meant that the conviction rate of the cases was more than 60 per cent.

He said that a total of 284 convicts had been awarded death sentences and 56 of them had already been executed.

Similarly, he said, 192 convicts had been awarded rigorous imprisonment, two accused acquitted and 54 cases dropped due to technical reasons.

The defence minister did not reply to a question seeking names of the terrorists killed or arrested during the operation Zarb-i-Azb, adding that he would obtain details of the insurgents killed or arrested during the military operation from the interior ministry.

The military courts were allowed to try civilians accused of acts of terrorism in January 2015 soon after a terrorist attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar on Dec 16, 2014.

The gory incident left more than 144 schoolchildren, teachers and other staff members of the Army Public School, Peshawar, dead. The banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the massacre.

The courts were given a two-year constitutional cover as both houses of parliament had adopted the 21st constitution amendment with the inclusion of a sunset clause despite fears among lawmakers that tribunals might not ensure due process of law to suspects and might undermine democracy.

Published in Dawn, December 14th, 2018