–Says 646 out of 717 cases logically concluded, 345 terrorists given death sentences
–Military’s spokesperson denies courts’ link with missing persons
–PPP says no to military courts
Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General (DG) Major General Asif Ghafoor on Friday said that the military courts are not working on the army’s wish, but are a need of the country.
The tenure of military courts, which were established after the 2014 Peshawar attack, is set to expire in March.
Speaking to a private media outlet on Friday night, he said that there was a wave of terrorism in the country but the criminal justice system is not quite effective in dealing with such cases and military courts were established after the parliament unanimously approved them.
“It was decided through a national consensus that military courts should be established and the death penalty should be revived,” he said.
“Within four years, military courts had 717 cases, out of which 646 were logically concluded. 345 terrorists were given death sentences,” said the army’s spokesperson.
“Military courts have sent a clear message to terror outfits, militants and their handlers that they can be punished,” he said.
Major General Ghafoor said that the extension in the courts was of two years and they will continue if the parliament backs the extension, adding that the courts created fear among terrorists.
The DG ISPR said there was a transparent system through which the cases were transferred to military courts. “These cases have no link with missing persons,” he asserted.
“The decision on military courts’ extension rests with the parliament,” said the ISPR DG. “We will do what parliament tells us,” he further said, adding that even previous extension to military courts was given by public representatives and the decision had to be taken with consensus.
PPP SAYS NO TO MILITARY COURTS:
Former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani announced on Friday that the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) had decided to oppose any further extension in the tenure of the military courts.
“The PPP will oppose it at all costs,” he said while addressing a press conference along with former Senator Farhatullah Babar after a meeting of the party’s central office-bearers and senior leaders at Bilawal House.
The meeting was jointly chaired by PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari while Faryal Talpur, Yousaf Raza Gilani, Raja Pervez Ashraf, Aitzaz Ahsan, Raza Rabbani, Khursheed Shah, Sherry Rehman, Murad Ali Shah and others were also present.
Gilani said that PPP would make no compromises or deter from its stance on the 18th Amendment. “We restored the constitution of 1973 and would defend the 18th Amendment at all costs,” he said and condemned centre’s decision to take back the ownership of some institutions handed over to the provincial governments after the amendment. He also expressed the hope that the new chief justice would take the case of the late PPP founder and former premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to its logical conclusion. “We have always done what is best for the masses and the country. The PPP will raise its voice for the provision of rights to the people and won’t ever succumb to any pressure,” he said further.
“NO to the military courts,” declared senior PPP leader Farhatullah Babar, adding that even if terrorism incidents had not declined then the military courts cannot do in 40 years what they have not been able to do in four years. He said that the party was opposing the military tribunals “lest it happens that Pakistan’s judiciary is militarised and the military becomes judicialised”, adding that such a situation would be very dangerous for the country.
Earlier this month, the law ministry had said that the summary for a second extension to military courts was forwarded to the cabinet for approval. Opposition parties, on the other hand, have opposed the move, arguing that the law and order in the country is satisfactory and there is no need to further extend the courts’ tenure.
In December, PPP chief Bilawal had unequivocally said that his party would not support another extension to the military courts, whose current two-year term is set to expire in March. However, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif has spoken in military courts’ favour and hinted that his party could consider supporting an extension if approached by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government.