Tag Archives: Military courts

Sindh’s rude awakening

By Qasim A. Moini

Friday’s massacre in a Shikarpur Imambargah has proved fears long held by many observers that behind the traditional image of Sindh as a placid land of Sufis, a much darker reality is developing.

While Karachi, the provincial capital, has witnessed incredibly bloody violence carried out by militants of various stripes, it is the first time an attack of such devastating proportions has occurred outside the metropolis, in the hinterland of Sindh.

Also read: At least 60 killed in blast at Shikarpur imambargah

Shikarpur and its surrounding districts are far from islands of peace and tranquillity. They have witnessed a high level of lawlessness as well as religiously-inspired violence, but nothing of this level. For example in February 2013 the custodian of a dargah was attacked in neighbouring Jacobabad district. Yet while the area is said to have a soft corner for religious groups, there is no major history of sectarian discord.

Senior journalist Sohail Sangi says there have been a number of sporadic incidents of religiously-inspired violence in Shikarpur and its environs. “Nato supply trucks were attacked in this region. It is quite a lawless area. Religious groups and parties have considerable presence here. Before the Sept 11 attacks some locals even went to fight for the Afghan Taliban. But there are not that many sectarian issues. Sectarian problems mostly exist in Khairpur and Sukkur.

Indeed Khairpur, which borders Shikarpur, has developed a reputation for communal tension and is seen as one of the centres in Sindh of the Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan/Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat. In fact the late head of the SSP,

Ali Sher Hyderi, who was killed in 2009 in the city, hailed from Khairpur. Elsewhere in the province, extremist outfits are said to be active in the Thar region, while along most of the provincial highways sectarian and religious graffiti is hard to miss.

Security analyst Amir Rana feels Sindh is going through the same motions as Punjab did in the 1990s where the development and proliferation of extremist tendencies are concerned.

“Different [extremist] groups have been making inroads in Sindh. After Ali Sher Hyderi’s assassination there were fears there would be a reaction. However, it didn’t happen then.

Deobandi madressahs are spreading, similar to what happened in the Punjab in the 1980s. With the expansion of madressahs, sectarian tendencies also tend to grow. The sectarian divide is definitely growing in Sindh,” he observes.

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan chairperson Zohra Yusuf feels the atrocity in Shikarpur puts a question mark over the state’s methods of countering militancy in the aftermath of the Peshawar school attack.

The bombing “goes against the government’s rationale that military courts and the death penalty would be deterrents. There needs to be zero tolerance for sectarian outfits. The government is not clear. The list of banned outfits has not been clearly released.

You need a clear definition of [who] the terrorist and sectarian groups are and what the government is doing against them. The government is in two minds, whether to take action against them or not.”

Asked how the state was dealing with the threat of extremism in Sindh, Mr Rana feels that efforts are piecemeal and that the state is not looking at the bigger militant picture.

“The administration takes a firefighting approach. It doesn’t take any actions [which it thinks] may lead to a law and order situation. Things are handled on a case-by-case basis at the district level. There is no broader perspective.”

Sindh clearly has a problem with extremism, and if it is not examined in a forthright manner, the cancer of sectarian and religious hatred will only grow.

Considering the province’s historically pluralist ethos, there may still be time to turn the tide and root out the merchants of death and divisiveness. If this is not done, Shikarpur may well be the harbinger of worse tragedies to come.

Courtesy: Published in Dawn January 31st, 2015
Read more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1160614/

Military courts: a wrong move

By Editorial

PAKISTAN should not have military courts, not in the expanded form envisioned by the military and political leadership of the country, not to try civilians on terrorism charges and not even for a limited period of time.

Military courts are simply not compatible with a constitutional democracy.

In the immediate aftermath of the Peshawar school massacre, politicians and the military leadership rightly came together to respond urgently to the terror threat that stalks this country.

What they did wrong was to decide on military courts as the lynchpin of a new strategy to fight terrorism.

Perhaps with a country convulsed with grief and the PML-N government on weak ground — given that until recently the party was insisting on dialogue with the elements behind the Peshawar calamity — there was little resistance to the military’s demand that terrorist suspects be tried in military courts, and presumably summarily executed thereafter.

Perhaps also the full range of opposition political parties present were overawed by the presence of the army chief and DG ISI in Peshawar, and those opposed to military courts decided that it was futile to oppose them in the circumstances.

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Senate proceedings: National Action Plan is a replica of NISP, says Rabbani

Hitting out at a greater role of the army in the country with the establishment of military courts, Rabbani said we have not learnt lessons from the past, referring to similar decisions taken in 1977 and 1998 resulting in the ouster of democratic regimes by martial law.

“We are going to repeat past mistakes. Today they are indicating civil courts have failed to deliver; tomorrow they might say political dispensation has also failed. They might say thank you very much, [now] pack your (politician’s) bags.”

He said the members of the upper house should tender their resignations.

“Article 245 has been invoked and provinces have been asked by interior minister to request army and now military courts are being set,” he lamented.

Talking about the constitutional amendment for the purpose of military courts, Rabbani said that “any amendment will hit at the basic structure of the Constitution.”

In reply, leader of the opposition Aitzaz Ahsan assured that “no constitutional right will be usurped,” though the guarantee should have come from the government.

Earlier, Senator Kalsoom Parveen from Balochistan National Party – Awami (BNP-A) said: “We have reservations and it should be clarified whether they will be used against politicians or terrorists.”

She also asked the authorities to give a clear definition of who exactly is a terrorist. Kazim Khan from the PPP said, “Whenever the PML-N has come to power, military courts have been set up. I would ask Nawaz Sharif not to go back to those [army] he had already left.”

Meanwhile, Nisar Muhammad from the ruling PML-N delivered an emotional speech asking all political forces to join hands, saying “we are all responsible for what happened in Peshawar.”

He said that “we have so far failed to identify our direction [in war against terrorism].”

Muhammad proposed that December 16 should be commemorated as a ‘day of mourning’ every year and the principal of Army Public School Peshawar be awarded a civil award for bravery.

Read more » The Express Tribune, December 30th, 2014.
Learn more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/814388/senate-proceedings-national-action-plan-is-a-replica-of-nisp-says-rabbani/#.VKW1JUnXbaA.facebook

Win the war not just the battle

By Ayesha Siddiqa

It seems that Pakistan is set on the path of becoming a country where all critical decisions will be either taken or influenced by the military, and the civilian leadership will merely fill in the blank or be the guinea pig to go after when someone is needed to blame. The security apparatus might as well be in charge since the combined leadership, irrespective of party affiliation and relative respectability, politely hummed and hawed and accepted military courts as fait accompli. It is almost humorous to think of parties who claim to have agreed to the solution after being promised that these courts will not be used against them, or that their use will be controlled. An even sadder fact is that barring the enlightened civil society, which understands the long-term impact of such developments, the bulk of civil society, or even the general public in certain parts of Pakistan, has a ‘can’t-be-bothered’ attitude towards democracy, which they now consider to be of secondary importance. In the words of an acquaintance, “First, let’s have security and we will take care of democracy later.” The obvious problem with this system is that responsibility will be divided and one wouldn’t know who to blame.

Continue reading Win the war not just the battle

Military courts

By Gul Bukhari

The agencies are not interested in convictions of extremist guys.” Every week, the prosecutors would get a visit from ISI and military intelligence officers to discuss the terrorism cases, to find out how many were being tried, how many pending. “And always they’d say, ‘Why are you going after good Muslims?’ or ‘What is the case against [Lashkar-e-Janghvi leader] Akram Lahori? He is working for Islam. Why are you working against him?’” – Buriro, prosecutor of Sindh ATC to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on prosecuting terrorists.

The agencies are not interested in convictions of extremist guys.” Every week, the prosecutors would get a visit from ISI and military intelligence officers to discuss the terrorism cases, to find out how many were being tried, how many pending. “And always they’d say, ‘Why are you going after good Muslims?’ or ‘What is the case against [Lashkar-e-Janghvi leader] Akram Lahori? He is working for Islam. Why are you working against him?’” – Buriro, prosecutor of Sindh ATC to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on prosecuting terrorists.

“Buriro produced the video in open court. He cross-examined the defendants’ witness, an ISI colonel. The prosecutors withstood anonymous phone threats; they turned down bribes to let the case return to the regular courts, where it would fade away. The security apparatus was especially furious that uniformed men were being tried in the anti-terrorism court. ‘During the process of the case I was threatened by the naval agencies. I was threatened by the ISI,’ Buriro said. The prosecutors were excoriated for not damaging evidence in the case as instructed.” – Buriro to CPJ on his prosecution of Rangers men for shooting to death unarmed Sarfaraz Shah in a park in Karachi in 2011. They were caught on camera and the case became a publicized one.

Buriro produced the video in open court. He cross-examined the defendants’ witness, an ISI colonel. The prosecutors withstood anonymous phone threats; they turned down bribes to let the case return to the regular courts, where it would fade away. The security apparatus was especially furious that uniformed men were being tried in the anti-terrorism court. ‘During the process of the case I was threatened by the naval agencies. I was threatened by the ISI,’ Buriro said. The prosecutors were excoriated for not damaging evidence in the case as instructed.” – Buriro to CPJ on his prosecution of Rangers men for shooting to death unarmed Sarfaraz Shah in a park in Karachi in 2011. They were caught on camera and the case became a publicized one.

CPJ’s full report on the roots of impunity in Pakistan is a horrifying, heart-stopping indictment of primarily the military and its intelligence agencies. Political parties and governments, in particular the MQM, are not spared either, but the clear illustration of how intelligence agencies perpetrate atrocities and prevent justice through civilian law enforcement and courts is petrifying. The blood runs cold reading how journalist Mukarram Khan Aatif reporting on a Taliban hideout being only two kilometers from the Salala Checkpost on the Pak-Afghan border was murdered. Mukarram’s reports on Deewa Radio were pointing to the possible reason the Americans attacked the Salala checkpost killing 24 Pakistan Army soldiers. His reports came too close to exposing the military-militant nexus, and the military’s double games. The people of the country were rightly angry the Americans had killed innocent soldiers of the Pakistan Army, unprovoked. However, the people of Pakistan were to be prevented from understanding what actually led to the accident.

The blood runs cold reading how journalist Mukarram Khan Aatif reporting on a Taliban hideout being only two kilometers from the Salala Checkpost on the Pak-Afghan border was murdered. Mukarram’s reports on Deewa Radio were pointing to the possible reason the Americans attacked the Salala checkpost killing 24 Pakistan Army soldiers. His reports came too close to exposing the military-militant nexus, and the military’s double games. The people of the country were rightly angry the Americans had killed innocent soldiers of the Pakistan Army, unprovoked. However, the people of Pakistan were to be prevented from understanding what actually led to the accident.

Yet, in response to the massacre of 140 children in the APC Peshawar attack, the most significant anti-terror measures announced by the Prime Minister, and acquiesced to by the rest of the parliamentary parties, is to cede ‘justice’ to the military and to lift the moratorium on death penalty for terrorists. Both were dictated by the military.

‘All day on Wednesday, according to a participant of the meeting held at the PM House, the military leadership stressed the need to set up military courts as the “(civilian) justice system had failed to deliver.” – front page of Dawn, December 25th. In light of the CPJ report, which merely acts to confirm what many of us have known, are military courts then the solution? Is the military the solution or part of the problem? The narrative being built for the justification of military courts is wrong: that the civilian judges and law enforcement agencies are too weak, inept, and cowardly to convict terrorists. All, I repeat all, terror groups, be they of the Taliban ilk (whom the military has for sometime turned against) or sectarian in nature like the SSP and LeJ, were formed by the military for its various domestic and foreign security policies. And the police’s and courts’ intimidation by the military intelligence agencies is in no small part responsible for the broken civilian justice system. One cannot exonerate the political elite for not trying to strengthen the policing and courts systems, but in the face of the powerful army, and with having to watch over their shoulders’ every moment for the next coup, one cannot blame them entirely either.

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Misuse of military courts will not be allowed, vows Zardari

By Dawn.com

GARHI KHUDA BAKHSH: Speaking at the Bhutto mausoleum to mark Benazir Bhutto’s death anniversary on Saturday, former president and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari vowed that the misuse of military courts will not be allowed. He said the PPP will only accept military courts when it is proven that they are not being used politically

Read more » DAWN
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