SC rejects all 16 appeals of terror convicts set to hang

ISLAMABAD: In a 182-page decision, the Supreme Court (SC) rejected all appeals against convictions handed down by military courts, including capital punishment, in terrorism-related cases on Monday.

The convicted, including Qari Zubair, Haider Ali, Qari Zahir Gul, Taj Mohammad, Atteeq-ur-Rehman, Akhtar Mahmood, Fateh Mohammad, Sher Alam, Mohammad Arabi and others, were found guilty of involvement in the Army Public School Attack in Peshawar, Parade Line bombing in Rawalpindi, the Bannu jailbreak and attacks on army convoys and installations.

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif had already rejected appeals of the 16 convicted in military courts.

The decision marks the first time the highest court has ruled on the legality of cases tried by the military. The bench ruled that the appellants had not proved the military violated their constitutional rights or failed to follow procedure, in a blow to some activists who contend the courts routinely violate people’s rights.

A five-member bench had reserved its decision on 16 petitions on June 20, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali and comprised of Justice Amir Hani Muslim, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik and Justice Faisal Arab.

The counsel for the convicted had complained that their clients did not receive a fair trial, nor were they allowed to choose their counsel.

The SC argued that the conditions for a fair trial were met and the defendants had been provided with counsel.

The decision observed that, “Neither the order passed by the Field General Court Martial [military court] is a case of no evidence nor the evidence led by the prosecution is insufficient. There is sufficient material available to prove the guilt of the appellants.”

On June 20, rights activist Asma Jahangir appealed to the Supreme Court to order retrial in all cases in which military courts handed down convictions, including capital punishments.

Jahangir had complained that the full record of the evidence had not been made available to the accused. She also regretted that her clients had been arrested under the Action (In Aid of Civil Power) Regulation 2011 (AACPR) before military courts were established, but their cases were sent to military courts only to “hide malice on the part of security forces because the rule under which the accused had been nabbed had no constitutional protection”.

The government empowered military courts to try civilian terrorism suspects in January 2015, following an attack by Pakistani Taliban militants on a school in Peshawar that killed more than 130 pupils.

The military has so far convicted 104 civilians in the secret tribunals. Of those, 100 have been sentenced to death, and four to life imprisonment. All but six are said by the military to have confessed.

Those whose appeals were dismissed on Monday included nine members of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and two Al Qaeda members, according to Pakistan’s military. Two convicts are said to have been involved in the Peshawar school killings.

Lawyers for all 16 convicts contended their clients had been tried in secret, without access to legal counsel of their choice, and that their confessions had been recorded illegally. They also claimed they were denied access to military court records when preparing their appeals.

The complaints echoed those made by lawyers and families of those convicted by the courts to Reuters. Two families and one lawyer said they had been threatened after filing appeals. Several told Reuters that confessions were “coerced” by the military.

Sajid Ilyas Bhatti, the deputy attorney general representing the government, denied the appellants’ claims, saying they had been accorded their rights.

He argued that military court proceedings were “immune from challenge on the ground of any alleged violation of the fundamental rights”.

In its 182-page judgment, the court concluded that the appellants failed to prove wrongdoing on the part of the military authorities.

PM Secretariat dumps findings of 39 corruption scandals

ISLAMABAD: An investigation report of 39 mega scandals of corruption in capital Development Authority (CDA) has been lost in the Prime Minister Secretariat.

According to documents available with “Online” Prime Minister Secretariat has dumped the findings of 39 corruption inquiries pertaining to mega corruption scams of Capital Development Authority (CDA) involving multi billion rupees and allegedly put them in cold storage.

The secret government documents showed that criminal investigation into multi billion rupees corruption scams was initiated on the behest of Nawaz Sharif’s orders to recover plundered wealth from the jaws of the corrupt people.

Thirteen member committee headed by Chief Economist Rizwan Shabir has probed of corruption of 15 billion of rupees in allotment to Hayat Regency, except of this, Dubai Plaza, Hill View Pak Tower, Allotment of Cinema plot no 29 ,G, 9 Markaz, Centaurus plot, Margalla Tower, Allotment of Saidpur Village and allotment of 43 Schools plots to favorites’ scandals are included.

Committee headed by Secretary Benazir Income Security Program Habib Akhtar has finalized its report regarding Citizen Club, F-9 Park, Saffa Gold Mall, Petrol pump Scand, shops of Itwar bazaar scandals.

Thirteen member committee headed by the Secretary Petroleum Arshad Mirza has submitted corruption inquiry report pertaining to scandal of issuing NOC to Housing Societies, scandal of extension in D12 and E11, Kuri road and Agro farm scandal.

According to report a committee headed by Additional Secretary (AD) Shahid Mehmood has submitted its report in 2014 regarding to Minal Restaurant scandal, scam of plots’ allotment in Diplomatic Enclave, scandal of shops allotment in Lake View and Arts village scandal.

Thirteen member committee headed by the Additional Secretary Javed Akhtar has finalized its findings in 2014 pertaining to billion of rupees investment in Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) by CDA, scandal of plots’ transferring to officers, LED scandal and Diplomatic Shuttle scandal.

Three member committee headed by Muhammad Imtiaz had provided its findings pertaining to IJP road scandal, scam of corruption in Bahria Enclave, Kashmir Highways and Park Town Scandal.

Sources told that the officers of Secretariat did not present this report to PM not even sent show cause notices to responsible corrupt officers.

When Online contacted PM spokesman Dr, Tasadaq Malik for the version of the government on the report but the concerned people did not bother to comment in order to clear the ambiguity surrounding the scams.

Pakistan seeks US support for NSG membership

WASHINGTON: Pakistan has sought the US support to get Nuclear Suppliers Group’s membership.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US, Jalil Abbas Jilani has approached the White House, the State Department, important Congressional leaders and significant think-tanks and opinion makers calling upon them to support Pakistan’s membership of the NSG.
The Ambassador also assured the US leadership that Pakistan shares the international concerns against proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and their means of delivery.

He said Pakistan’s inclusion to the NSG would be the right decision to enhance international security.
The envoy emphasized that Pakistan’s membership to the NSG would not only go a long way in strengthening the international non-proliferation regime but also help Islamabad enhance its capabilities in harnessing peaceful uses of nuclear technology in the fields of health, agriculture and power generation.

Jalil Abbas Jilani said Pakistan, as one of the founding members of the IAEA, has actively contributed to the Conference on Disarmament in negotiating multilateral arms control and disarmament instruments on the principle of equal and undiminished security for all.

He said Pakistan has also instituted elaborate export control regime, legislative framework and comprehensive regulatory and administrative measures. Pakistan’s Export Control Lists are in harmony with those of the NSG, Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and Australia Group. “Because of a “catch-all” clause and licensing requirements in the export control law, there is no possibility of export of non-listed items that could be used in making WMDs or their delivery systems”, he added.

Indian diplomat lives in Pakistan without visa: FO sources

ISLAMABAD: An Indian diplomat has been living in Pakistan without a valid visa for the last six months, Foreign Office (FO) sources have told Online.

Both the FO and interior ministry are responsible for letting an Indian national live in the federal capital without the visa. The diplomat was serving in the Indian High Commission (IHC) in Islamabad and had his visa expired some six months ago.

The FO spokesman Nafees Zakria expressed his ignorance of the matter. However, the IHC spokesperson confirmed the presence of the Indian diplomat in Islamabad without a visa.

“Yes, the story is absolutely true but we don’t want his name to be published,” the IHC spokesperson, Balbeer Singh, told Online in a written reply. He asserted the IHC had been requesting the Pakistani authorities in writing and “through other bilateral means” to get visa for the said diplomat.

He refused to identify the said diplomat saying it was against the policy to reveal the names of IHC diplomatic staff.

The IHC had approached the Pakistan’s FO to get his visa renewed. In such cases the FO acted as a post office, since renewing visa for the foreigners is prerogative of the interior ministry. However, the FO could always expedite the process by requesting the interior ministry to cut the bureaucratic delays.

The FO spokesperson first expressed his unawareness before making a cautious general statement that case of the Indian diplomat might have been “under process.”

“This is no news story. These are normal practices throughout the world. The process of renewal of visa may take several months. As far as the case is under process, we cannot say the Indian diplomat is living here without a visa,” he justified the situation on the basis of assumption.

Both Pakistan and India are signatories to an agreement under which the diplomats are granted visa as per the tenure of their assignment.

The said Indian diplomat was serving in a Middle Eastern country before coming to Islamabad. Though he was supposed to serve at Islamabad station for three years, yet he was granted one-year visa.

Sources said the case file of the Indian diplomat awaits approval from Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who maintains a rather tough stance towards India unlike his boss, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

In a recently-held conference of Saarc home ministers, Chaudhry Nisar exchanged unpleasant rant with his Indian counterpart, Rajnath Singh. Chaudhry Nisar did not play a good host at the conference. He was supposed to have lunch with the home ministers of other Saarc countries, who were visiting Pakistan on his invitation. Chaudhry Nisar’s absence from the lunch had prompted the Indian home minister cut hi trip short and leave for India.

Diplomatic standoff between the two neighbouring countries intensified on diplomatic front after the Indian government downgraded Pakistan to a non-school going mission.

The Indian government asked its diplomatic and non-diplomatic staff, in Islamabad, to arrange for the education of their children somewhere outside Pakistan. The decision forced several families of Indian diplomats returned to India.

Sri Lankan cricket team attackers killed in Lahore: CTD

LAHORE: The CTD personnel on Sunday morning killed four alleged terrorists, while weapons and explosives were recovered from their suspects’ possession during raid in Manawan area in Lahore.

According to CTD sources, the terrorists were involved in 2008 Moon Market suicide explosion and the attack on Sri Lankan cricket team attack in 2009.

On a tip-off, the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) personnel conducted search operation on Sunday at Mian Town Burj area near Ring Road, while the terrorists started firing at the police party.

The police retaliated and gunned-down four terrorists, while three fled the scene. The bodies were shifted to local hospital for medico-legal formalities. The deceased were identified as Zubair, Abdul Wahab, Adnan Arshad and Ateeq-ur-Rehman.

The officials did not identify the militants or their armed group. The attack on the cricket team killed six police and two bystanders, and wounded six cricket players.

The Pakistani Taliban and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an affiliated extremist group, claimed the attack, which was carried out by 10 gunmen.

A counter-terrorism official says the shootout erupted late Saturday on the edge of Lahore when other gunmen tried to break the militants out of police custody. Another senior official confirmed the account. Both spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing retribution.