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KARACHI: The Pakistan Army has declared that the military courts have no link with the issue of missing persons and the decision to extend their tenure solely rests with parliament.

“This is an additional task for us. The army recommends [it] but it is not our solo demand. It has to be [done with] political consensus,” Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) chief Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said of the extension of military courts.

Talking to a television channel show on Friday evening, he said it was the parliament that had passed the 21st Amendment to set up military courts in the country against the backdrop of carnage at the Army Public School, Peshawar, and then extended their tenure for two more years.

“These courts have caused a wave of fear in terrorists and their handlers and incidents of terrorism have significantly reduced because of them,” he said in a talk show of Dunya News.

He asked whether the criminal justice system, which had failed to punish terrorists, had now become strengthened enough to deal with terrorists. He said the army would continue, or discontinue, these courts if the parliament decided in their favour or against them.

The ISPR chief, however, said that giving the impression that only the army, or a single institution, wanted the extension of the military court was absolutely wrong. He said that during four years the military courts had conducted trial in a total of 717 cases which had been sent to them through a transparent process. He said the military courts handed down death sentences to 345 accused and 56 of the convicts were hanged.

Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2019