Army starts groundwork for setting up courts

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ISLAMABAD: The military top brass began on Thursday

preparing a blueprint for setting up of military courts and execution of other tasks assigned to the army under the National Act­ion Plan against terrorism.

“Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif chaired a high-level security meeting today. During the meeting he reviewed all activities to be undertaken by the Army and intelligence agencies as part of the National Action Plan,” a military spokesman said.

On Wednesday, political parties had approved the 20-point National Action Plan (NAP) against terrorism, described by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif — in a late-night speech after about 10-hour political consultations — as “a comprehensive policy”.

The meeting at the GHQ was attended by ISI chief Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar and heads of army departments which will be involved in the implementation of the part of the plan delegated to the army.

Under NAP, the army will establish military courts for speedy prosecution of terrorism suspects, train personnel of law-enforcement agencies to stren­gthen the counterterrorism appar­atus, assist in raising 10 new wings of the Frontier Corps, intensify the ongoing operation in Karachi and aid efforts for political reconciliation in Balochistan. The army’s part, a source said, includes a range of intelligence-related tasks, kin­etic operations and capacity building of civilian law-enforcement agencies.

Gen Sharif stressed the need for expeditious implementation of the measures assigned to the army. “The army chief directed all concerned to initiate action on an urgent basis for its (the plan’s) speedy and effective implementation,” the spokesman for the Inter-Services Public Relations said. He reiterated his resolve “in unequivocal terms” to take the fight against terrorism to its logical conclusion.

Sources in the military were reluctant to say anything about the timeline for setting up military courts because first the parliament has to legislate on the matter. The courts will be set up for a period of two years.

“It’s a matter of weeks before these courts become functional,” an official said.

He said the political consensus against terrorism and the unanimity of views between the political and military leadership were noted with satisfaction at the meeting. The ISPR statement, too, noted this sentiment: “The COAS paid tribute to the national political leadership...for their spirit and unwavering resolve to rid Pakistan of this menace through reforms and administrative measures.”

Gen Sharif said he hoped that this consensus — which emerged after the Peshawar school carnage in which about 150 people, 133 of them children, were killed — could be transformed into “practical action on the ground”.

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