Saturday, January 10, 2015

9 military courts being set up across country in first phase

* ISPR says three military courts each in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, two in Sindh and one being set up in Balochistan * Courts will start functioning soon

January 10, 2015

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Army on Friday announced establishment of nine military courts in all the four provinces, initially.

Three military courts each would be set up in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, two in Sindh and one in Balochistan, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement. These courts would start functioning soon, the statement added. The army’s statement on setting up the military courts follows parliament’s nod earlier this week. The National Assembly and Senate on Tuesday adopted the 21st Constitutional Amendment Bill and the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Bill, 2015, unopposed, to allow the formation of the special trial courts for speedy and effective trial of the hardcore terrorists involved in heinous terrorist activities, for the very first time in the history of Pakistan’s democratic dispensation.

On Wednesday, President Mamnoon Hussain signed into law both the bills to complete the legalities required to set up the military courts that would be in place for two years. Military sources said the General Headquarters (GHQ) has been assigning those army officers to the military courts who have an educational background in law studies or who have been involved in dealing with the army’s legal affairs. Reportedly, the military courts would be headed mainly by brigadier ranked officers and comprise of the officers of lieutenant colonel and colonel ranks. The GHQ is set to engage the officers mainly from Pakistan Army’s Adjutant General (AG) and Judge Advocate General (JAG) branches in the military courts, sources shared.

Usually the officers in AG and JAG branches have a very clear and sound understanding of military laws and rules laid down in the Army Act 1952, but appointing the officers solely from these two branches is not necessary, the officials said, adding that some officers in the field formations who have degrees in law studies can also be deputed in the military courts. The special trial courts, it has been learnt, would be working under the administrative ambit of Field General Court Martial (FGCM) and work in close coordination between the AG and JAG branches and the working of these courts would directly supervised by the GHQ.

The summaries and details of every trial would be shared with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif and the sentences handed to the terrorists would come into effect only after the COAS signs the related warrants.

Asma says 21st amendment suicide attack on parliament

LAHORE: Former president of Supreme Court Bar Association and chairperson of Friends group, Asma Jahangir, has termed the 21st amendment a suicide attack on parliament.

She said the new legislation would have a serious impact on political discourse of the country.

She was talking to media persons on Saturday at Lahore Judicial Complex where she had come to cast her vote in the election of Lahore Bar Association.

She said the parliamentarians were ‘blackmailed’ on the issue of military courts.

Ms Jahangir said members of the parliament failed to question the reasons behind terrorism and to come up with a rational solution to curb the menace. She said former dictator Musharraf also tried to establish military courts but failed due to strong agitation by the civil society.

However, she regretted a democratic government itself delegated powers of the parliament to military courts.

When asked whether the new legislation could be challenged before the Supreme Court, she said assailing the law would be tantamount to undermining the parliament.

Professional group’s head Hamid Khan said the military courts would not be a right solution to terrorism. He said the nation had already faced failure of these courts in dictatorial regimes of Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan and Ziaul Haq. He said the executive also failed to improve law and order and it endorsed establishment of military courts to prosecute suspects without evidence.

He said he could not dispel the apprehension that the military courts would be used for political victimisation.

Published in Dawn January 11th , 2014

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