Pak govt plans to extend tenure of special military courts: Report
Islamabad, Dec 19: Pakistan government plans to extend the tenure of controversial special military courts established for speedy trial of terror related cases after the Peshawar School massacre in December 2014, according to a media report on Wednesday.
The military courts were initially established after the December 2014 attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar which had left 150 people, mostly children, dead.
The special military courts were set up for two years in January 2015 for the speedy trial of militants and its tenure was extended for another two years in 2017 which is set to expire on January 6.
The government of Prime Minister Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was thinking to further extend the tenure but given the current political climate of the country, the extension would remain a challenge, the Express Tribune reported.
A senior government official confirmed the government's intention to extend the tenure of the military court, the report said.
He, however, did not reveal how the government planned to pass a constitutional amendment without a two-third majority in Parliament.
Despite conceding to the Opposition and handing over the chair of the Public Accounts Committee to Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif, the government and Opposition parties remain at loggerheads.
A PTI federal minister was quoted as saying by the report that he has recommended to the government to amend existing anti-terrorism laws instead of extending the tenure of the military courts.
On the other hand, a senior Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader maintained that the party will evolve its strategy once the bill has been tabled.
Meanwhile, political analysts maintained that the centre will need to offer concessions to the Opposition parties in exchange for support on the amendment.
The Pakistan Army has said on December 16 that so far 717 accused were sent to military courts since they were established. Of these 717 cases, 546 had been finalised by the military courts.
And of the 546 finalised cases, 310 terrorists were the handed death penalty while 234 were given rigorous imprisonment of varied duration ranging from life imprisonment to a minimum duration of five years.
Two accused persons were acquitted by the courts.
In addition, out of 310 sentenced to death, 56 convicts had been executed after completion of legal process beyond military courts decisions which included their appeal in superior courts and rejection of their mercy petitions both by the Army chief and the president.
The military courts were billed by rights activists as violation of basic human rights as enshrined in the Constitution of the country and international charters.
The primary concern of critics was the mystery surrounding military court trials: no one knows who the convicts are, what charges have been brought against them, or what the accused's defence is against the allegations levelled.