Pakistan to use army courts for terror cases

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announces plan to combat Taliban and other armed groups in wake of Peshawar school attack.

    Pakistan has announced plans to set up special military-run courts to prosecute terrorism suspects as part of a new anti-terrorism plan following the Pakistani Taliban school massacre that killed 149 people, including 132 children.

    In a live televised address to the nation on Wednesday, Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan's prime minister, announced 25 new counter-terrorism policies, with military-run courts among the most controversial.

    "Special courts, headed by the officers of armed forces, will be established for the speedy trial of terrorists," he said.

    Sharif gave few details about how the courts would function, except to say they would operate for the next two years and that changes to current laws would be needed.

    "The Peshawar attack has shocked the nation. We will not let the blood of our children go in vain," he said.

    Sharif also mentioned plans to cutting off financial aid to "terrorists" and methods to prevent banned organisations from operating with new names.

    Crackdown on fighters

    The "plan of action" included a wide range of measures including constitutional amendments, banning space for "terrorists" in electronic and print media, destroying their communication systems, and the repatriation of Afghan refugees.

    Sharif also announced the formation of a special anti-terrorism force and reforms of religious seminaries known as madrassas. 

    In the wake of the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) attack on December 16 that  killed 149 people , the military stepped up operations in tribal areas, and the government reinstated the death penalty. Already six people have been executed.

    The TTP has said the attack was revenge for the killing of their families in an army offensive in the tribal northwest.

    Critics have argued that quick-fix measures such as military courts or reinstating the death penalty do little to improve the legal process and the police in the long run.

    They argue the new courts would also greatly strengthen the role of the military in a country where the army has already taken power in three coups and still wields enormous power behind the scenes, and whether there will be any civilian oversight or media access.

    Just hours after Sharif's televised address, two people were killed and more than 20 others injured in a bomb explosion in Pakistan's southwestern city of Quetta, according to Radio Pakistan.

    Sharif strongly condemned the blast, which occurred on Wednesday night.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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