PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Thursday issued a stay order against the execution of a terrorism convict and suspended his death sentence awarded by a military court last year for attacking security forces and blowing up of a school in Swat.

A bench consisting of Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth and Justice Abdul Shakoor issued notice to the defence ministry seeking records of the case.

Khadim Khan filed a petition with the court challenging the conviction of his son, Arshad Bilal.

He claimed that his son was falsely implicated in the cases.

The Inter-Services Public Relations, the media wing of the Pakistan Army, had announced on Jan 19, 2018, the award of death sentence to 10 convicted terrorists, including Arshad Bilal, by a military court and the subsequent confirmation of the sentence by the chief of army staff.

It had claimed that Arshad Bilal and Anwar Ali, members of a proscribed organisation, were found to be involved in attacking armed forces, which killed nine soldiers and injured nine others.

The ISPR had added that the convicts had also destroyed the Government Boys Primary School in Langer area of Swat besides possessing unlicensed firearms and explosives. It had claimed that the convicts had confessed to terrorist activities before a magistrate and the trial court.

Mohammad Arif Jan, lawyer for the petitioner, said convict Arshad Bilal was a resident of Swat and had gone to Karachi, where he used to work as a labour before he was held on Apr 16, 2011.

He added that Arshad Bilal remained missing for several months and was traced at an internment centre in Fizzagut area of Swat.

The lawyer said Arshad Bilal was kept at the Swat internment centre for many years before he was shifted to such facility in Kohat.

He said when the family visited the detainee at the internment centre last year, they learned about his conviction and were informed that a military court had sentenced him to death.

The lawyer claimed that the convict was not a member of any militant outfit and that there was nothing on record to prove his involvement in anti-state activities.

He said several constitutional provisions were violated during the conviction of Arshad Bilal and that he was denied fair trial, which was guaranteed in Article 10-A of the Constitution.

The lawyer also complained that the convict was not allowed to hire a lawyer of his choice.

He requested the court to suspend the sentence immediately fearing that the convict will be executed anytime.

Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2019