United against terrorism

THE consensus of parliamentary leaders on Tuesday over revival of military courts has once again relayed a strong and clear message that the entire nation is united against the menace of terrorism and extremism and is ready to go to any extent to defeat those who are damaging the country and bring bad name to our great religion. Sorting out difference through dialogue and discussion also augurs well for national unity and cohesion.
As explained by various political leaders after their meeting in Islamabad that they had no objection to revival of military courts in view of grave challenge of terrorism but they had reservations over inaction by government towards strengthening of normal judicial system to deliver. With this in view, the leaders have decided to form a Parliamentary Oversight Committee, members of which would be drawn from both houses of Parliament, to ensure that timelines agreed upon are duly followed by government. We hope that a dependable mechanism would be evolved to realise the objective within two years. For this purpose, mere legislative cover would not work and a comprehensive approach need to be adopted that includes aspects like safety of judges and their families, induction of judges of impeccable character, safety of witnesses and protection of their identity, prompt and reliable investigations and timelines for trial of cases as well as decisions on appeals. It is unfortunate that while military courts decided a number of cases on an urgent basis fulfilling legal and fair trial requirements, both relevant government ministries and superior courts are taking too much time in taking them to logical conclusion. Parliamentarians as well as federal and provincial governments should also ponder over lacklustre performance of anti-terrorism courts that have not lived up to their original objective of delivering prompt and effective judgements. Their failure is encouraging terrorists and hard core criminals and any future arrangement should take care of all these issues.

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