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January 3, 2015

Kudos to leadership for reaching consensus on terror


January 3, 2015

ISLAMABAD: The parliamentary leaders of all hue and colour deserve kudos for reaching exceptional consensus on decisively tackling the terrorists with an iron hand, and their agreement is an apt reply to anti-democracy elements, who keep cursing politicians day in and day out for inaction.
The parliamentary stalwarts rose to the occasion and did not disappoint the nation, which is yearning for peace. The gigantic challenge posed by the terrorists obviously weighed heavily on everybody’s mind, forcing them to agree to the establishment of military courts.
The decision of creating such courts and the constitutional cover to be provided to them now has universal political ownership. Every top leader positively contributed to the crucial deliberations. Now, there is no room for any disagreement as all the party heads were part of the discussions.
The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Awami National Party (ANP), which were although opposing the constitutional amendment, they consented to the formation of military courts by changing the Pakistan Army Act gave full support to the key decisions.
When the PTI put its full weight behind the creation of military courts and the constitutional amendment, its decision not to attend the National Assembly doesn’t sound impressive. It will be prudent on its part to attend the House proceedings confined to the approval of the agreed changes. Later, it may stay away from the legislature to continue its protest. It matters only in the National Assembly while it has no representation whatsoever in the Senate.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif played a forceful role in bringing about the much needed accord and spent several hours over the past two weeks. Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif also was proactive in ensuring that the decisions are taken without any delay. He infused a sense of urgency.
Every premier institution, including the superior judiciary, has

braced up to eliminate the scourge of terrorism in its own way.The determination of the prime minister and the COAS and the entire parliamentary leadership to root out terrorism is beyond any doubt. Setting aside their differences, the political leaders gathered under one roof for the third time in a span of just two weeks to work out a firm solution.
“Despite our deep differences, we are standing with the government on the question of eradicating terrorism,” PTI Chairman Imran Khan said before attending the All Parties Conference (APC) chaired by the prime minister.
Some cynical elements, who disapprove each and every move, good or bad, of the prime minister, were taunting him for holding meetings only over the past 15 days in the wake of the Peshawar Army Public School & College tragedy without taking even a single concrete practical step.
However, they ignored the fact that it was not in the exclusive power and authority of Nawaz Sharif to take decisions single-handed with the exclusion of the national leadership; otherwise, he would have introduced massive measures by now, given his perennial contempt against heinous crime. Undeniably, it is essential in a democratic dispensation to have a national consensus on a severe action and therefore, the involvement of all parliamentary players in the process is must.
While Nawaz Sharif and the army can take any decision whose legality and constitutionality is to be judged by superior courts, if challenged, the Supreme Court and high courts are required to operate while remaining within the four corners of the Constitution and law. They can’t summarily dispense justice without affording ample opportunity to the litigants. This is the fundamental requirement of law. In addition, the courts rely on solid evidence, not hearsay and rumours, while convicting anybody.
However, on a day when the senior most parliamentary and military leaderships were engrossed in a sombre in-depth discussion for the final decision for the foolproof trial of ‘jet black terrorists’, there were also important developments elsewhere.
The Supreme Court formed a bench, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, to hear appeals of condemned prisoners. The next week will see decisions of many such pleas. This will also clear the backlog if any, at the apex court.
In another development, the prime minister wrote a letter to President Mamnoon Hussain seeking dismissal of mercy pleas of five terrorists on death row. They include Muhammad Akramul Haq alias Lahori, Ahmed Ali alias Asif, Muhammad Tayaab alias Sajjad, Ghullam Shabir alias Doctor and Zulfiqar Ali.
It is believed that such advice is binding on the president. Even otherwise, the president is not accepting any clemency pleas filed by the condemned prisoners and has rejected a number of them over the past.
At the same time, the federal government is seeking in the Supreme Court early hearing in its appeal against the suspension of the detention order of Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack. The Interior Ministry has challenged the suspension. Islamabad High Court (IHC) Judge Justice Noorul Haq Qureshi had suspended the notification of detention of Lakhvi, arrested in 2009, who had moved the IHC against the government’s decision on his detention.
On the other hand, the Lahore High Court (LHC) halted the execution of death row convict named Faiz Ahmad. His lawyer submitted an application in the LHC, saying his client’s appeal against the death sentence was pending in the Supreme Court since 2009 and, therefore, his death warrant should be set aside. On December 24, an anti-terrorism court (ATC) had issued Faiz Ahmad’s death warrant on an application filed by the superintendent of Faisalabad Jail. The date of hanging was set for January 14.
Simultaneously, the LHC dismissed the government’s appeal against acquittal, due to lack of evidence, of two suspects allegedly involved in attacks on Kamra Aeronautical Complex (KAC), Hamza Camp and General Headquarters (GHQ) Rawalpindi.

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