Favors of Continuity of Military Courts - BY: RAJA JAVED ALI BHATTI

There are few issues / matters on which West is trying to propagate against Pak. Needs to be countered effectively. What the West want? Abolishing the Military Courts for trial of civilians. Making the trials of Military Courts public. No Secret detention of suspects. One must note that Military courts address only terrorism related cases and if trials are held openly, security of the Judges and the suspects as well, might get compromised.

An accompanying amendment to the Army Act extends the military's remit to try civilian suspects who are members of religious "terrorist groups" for crimes including, but not limited to: raising arms against the state; murder; creating terror or insecurity; possessing and using explosives, including suicide jackets; kidnapping for ransom; and receiving funding for such purposes.

The amendment cites "extraordinary … circumstances" as currently existing in Pakistan, which "demand special measures for speedy trial of certain offences relating to terrorism".

(One must note that Military courts address only terrorism related cases and if trials are held openly, security of the Judges and the suspects as well, might get compromised)

and if trials are held openly, security of the Judges and the suspects as well, might get compromised)

Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, president of the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT), agreed with the assessment that the object of the amendment appears to be to lower the threshold for convictions.

"So much will be at the discretion of the judges. I think judges will be more inclined to convict than to let people go free. I think the whole standard will go through a drastic change. That's why these courts were established," At the same time, Pakistan's civilian court system can hardly be termed efficient. Overburdened with cases and prone to corruption, cases often drag on for years, with conviction rates hovering between 5 and 10 percent. Rights groups have also raised questions regarding whether these courts meet international fair trial standards. Pakistan's judicial system already provides for terrorism cases to be tried in separate courts, termed Anti-Terrorism Courts (ATCs), where judges are under orders to provide decisions quicker than in regular trials. But such courts have quickly become clogged with cases not related to terrorism, such as murder, drug trafficking, and even kidnapping for ransom. At present, there are about 17,000 cases under trial in Pakistan's ATCs. According to the Supreme Court, as many as 85 percent of those cases are not terrorism-related. Criminal cases in Pakistan, legal analysts say, are generally marred by a lack of sufficient evidence and incompetence on the part of the investigators. It is unclear whether those structural problems will be addressed by having military courts.

People of Pakistan want the perpetrators to be punished & expect from their elected representatives to ensure that justice and judicial reforms are not delayed. Speedy trials in military courts ensured that justice in neither delayed nor denied.But Points in Favour of Continuity of Military Courts are many more

People of Pakistan want the perpetrators to be punished & expect from their elected representatives to ensure that justice and judicial reforms are not delayed. Speedy trials in military courts ensured that justice in neither delayed nor denied.

Country is going through extraordinary circumstances and extraordinary decisions are the need of the hour.

Military court saw execution of some very hardcore terrorists that helped to a great extent to break their organizational network.

Cases are disposed of in weeks and months without long delays by the military courts as compared to civil courts. Delays suits militants as our jails itself are considered safe haven for them.

By virtue of being a security institution, and fighting war against terrorism itself, no other institution understands the convicts and charges against them better than Army does.

Army is well trained to hold military courts and carryout trials as part of Pakistan Army Act-1952.

Previous govts brought some reforms in improving police, prosecution, protection of witnesses and certain judicial restructuring, however, certain major steps have not been taken like it could not strengthen the civil legal system and judicial process enough to deal with terrorism.

Courts need to be fully protected to avert danger of repercussions from such perilous elements and organizations. Life of civil judicial persons/ judges is undeniably in danger when dealing with extremists. Hence, the decisions of the judges are likely to be influenced, at times, in favour of accuse.

Military courts, lessen the pressure and risk factor on the lives of civil judicial elements.

At number of occasions, terrorists who were involved in serious crimes & convicted by military courts were acquitted by different civil courts. Setting them free means that those terrorists can easily flee. One needs to reckon the efforts with which such dangerous elements are grabbed and tried in military courts. Hence, a constitutional amendment is also require in this regard.

Many military operation and war in history failed in the culminating stage or post-conflict phase due to the inability of the politico-economic tool to take over and establish the political writ of the state.

All pillars of national power, the executive (civil-military), legislature, judiciary and the media, have to work in synchronized to achieve the ends of the policy of war against terror.

Now, when the Pakistani civil-military leadership has been able to achieve consensus on operation Radd-ul-Fasaad (RuF), we cannot fritter away the fruits of our labour and the sacrifices rendered by thousands of soldiers and almost a 70,000 civilians.

Military courts have been instrumental in helping the state in providing a legal backup to military operations, their efficacy is well established. Military courts are not something unique to Pakistan, all states use such legal framework in emergencies.

Threat of hybrid war will continue to loom large on Pakistan's horizon if the pillars of state mentioned above cannot work in synchronized. Our fault lines of provincialism, sectarianism, ethnicity and gap between the haves and have nots are real and only a unifying regimen and political dispensation accommodating all stakeholders can make us walk through this minefield of challenges.

If operation RuF is the unifying factor in this hybrid war, what stops us from developing the contours of a politico-economic and legal dispensation on the very pedestal provided by the success of this operation?

Posted on Jan 07, 19 | 4:02 am