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National

January 6, 2015

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Military courts not to try insurgents, target killers

ISLAMABAD: The military courts being set-up under 21st constitutional amendment would not try terror groups involved in ethnic killing of Pakistani citizens in Karachi or insurgents attacking state installations in Balochistan as legislation moved in the National Assembly (NA) specifically mentions religion and sect based terrorism as the intended targets of the amendments.
The drafts of both the 21st constitutional amendment and Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act 1952 specify that the changes will be applicable on people belonging to terrorist groups using the name of religion or sect.
The legal experts believe that the wording of the two amendments means that if a terrorist kills Pakistani people or attacks state institutions and installation but he does not belong to any religious or sectarian group, he would not be tried in the military courts.
“Any person who is or claims or is known to belong to any terrorist group or organization using the name of religion or a sect and raises arms or wages against Pakistan and law enforcement agencies or attacks any civilian or military installations in Pakistan or kidnap any person for ransom or causes death of any person or injury …...shall be punished under this Act” says the amendment in section 2 of the Pakistan Army Act 1952.
Similarly according to draft of 21st constitutional amendment article 175 will have “no application on acts mentioned at serial no 6, 7, 8 and 9 or part I(III) of the First Schedule, who claims, or is known to belong to any terrorist group or organization using the name of religion or sect.”
Even a special explanation is included in the bill to amend Army Act 1952 which states. “In this Act, the expression ‘sect’ means a sect of religion and does not include any political party registered under any law for the time being in force,” said the experts.
S M Zafar is of the view that the target killing by mafias in Karachi and insurgents in Balochistan and terrorism

by ethnic groups will not come under the purview of military courts as per the amendment bills moved in the national assembly on Saturday.
“In my understanding, the wording used in drafts of 21st constitutional amendment and Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act 1952 clearly indicates that only religion and sectarian based terrorist groups will be tried in the military courts,” Zafar who is also a former law minister told The News.
However, he said sectarian killings of Hazaras in Balochistan may come within the ambit of the military courts.The National Assembly is likely to conduct voting on these amendments today (Tuesday).

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