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Prevalent hesitance on military courts

One and all were slumped in deep dejection, when the entire world beheld deadly bloodbath in Peshawar school attack. Hundreds of corpses were recovered at the end of the massacre; the prime target was school children. As usual, without further ado, Taliban (TTP) claimed responsibility for killing the hundreds of school children blatantly in the retaliation of military offensive. Aftermath of Taliban’s grisly school attack, Pakistani nation expressed grief and anger at Taliban monsters, heaped pressure on Pakistan armed forces to lift ban on dead penalties and hang militants, their sympathizers without mercy.

In the wake of public’s wrath, all political parties including arch-rivals, PTI and PML-N took a pew to formulate counter strategy against looming menace of terrorism. On the other side, public opinion has also coerced politicians to speak out openly against Taliban groups. Political leaders, like Siraj-ul-Haq, Imran Khan and others who were defied special forces action, and established a good rapport with Taliban groups, could not continue their pro-Taliban policy.  Just posterior to all, we heard on the subject of military courts. Subsequently, the debate started with relevance to military speedy courts whether it should be set up or not. Here and now, majority of political stake holders have ratified to establish special trial courts which will be overseen by military officers. Pakistan’s army chief, Raheel Sharif has assured that special courts will try only ‘jet black terrorists’ like TTP militants.

Nevertheless, the vexed question arises, “will military courts be used for political victimization like past or not?”. It should also be taken into account that if courts are misused then the move will have grave repercussions for the state. In the era of 90’s, Nawaz Sharif had installed military courts twice in Karachi to dismantle MQM. The first phase of military courts remained valid for approx. three years (1990 to 1993) in Karachi, at that time, Nawaz Sharif was premier of the state. In 1997, Nawaz Sharif established military courts again in his second tenure which were valid for two years. In couple of military courts tenure, numerous cases were reported in connection with the miscarriage of justice. Pakistan armed forces were maligned for the reason of courts, military special benches were used by politicians as vendetta against others. In due course, armed forces overthrew Nawaz’s government in 1999 and army chief – Musharraf declared state emergency. Although, Nawaz Sharif had threatened numerous times to establish ‘military courts’ again in Karachi.

One more time, Nawaz Sharif is willing to set-up military speedy courts and the rationale behind courts is to decimate terrorist outfits in Pakistan. However, such courts do not have any place in the constitutional democracy, first of all, government will have to make few amendments in the constitution to establish speedy courts under the Articles 212-A and 212-B of the constitution. We have to acknowledge that civil courts have failed to adequately perform its responsibility while sentencing militants in speedy manner. Last days, PPP’s co-chairman has also warned Nawaz Sharif that implications of military courts can be used against him and Nawaz Sharif. Zardari feared that he and Nawaz, both could be jailed under the law of military courts.

Notwithstanding, at the present time, speedy courts are obligatory to extirpate the barbarians of Taliban from Pakistan. It’s need of the hour to wage a united war against terror groups, multi-prong strategy should be adopted to focus on all areas. Beyond the shadow of a doubt, it’s prime time to adopt a unified and tough policy for countering terrorism. The other side of the coin is that UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has urged Pakistan to abrogate the death penalty, nonetheless, Peshawar school attack has provided the essential rationale for Pakistan to exterminate Taliban brutes.

Mr. Nawaz Sharif is going to implicate military courts rule for the third time in Pakistan. Still and all, authorities should make sure that speedy courts won’t be used for settling political vendetta. Political and other cases should not be proceeded in speedy courts for making it vexed rule. Madrassas should be registered and regulated, military action should be taken against hate speech mouth-piece under military courts. The sympathizers and financiers of Taliban should be dealt with firmness. The foremost course is that fundamental rights should not be compromised.

Ultimately, it’s the failure of our judiciary system that military courts are being re-established by authorities and common people are also looking towards armed forces. Let’s see, when will judiciary and democratic government discern their failure vis-à-vis countering terrorism? The time has arrived to take stern action against the Taliban with no attempt at concealment just like they accept the responsibility of terrorist attacks openly.

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