Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday said it would set up military courts for terror-related cases, as part of an ambitious antiterrorism plan following a deadly Taliban school attack that killed 150 people.
In a midnight address to the nation after almost 11 hours of deliberations with leaders of political parties, Sharif said strong action was needed to root out extremism and warned no mercy would be shown to those behind attacks.
He announced the establishment of military courts as part of the 20-point plan of action—a week after a six year moratorium on the death penalty was lifted for terror cases in the wake of the deadliest assault by militants in Pakistani history.
“Special courts, headed by the officers of Armed Forces, will be established for the speedy trial of terrorists,” he said. He said the special courts would operate for two years.
“The Peshawar atrocity has changed Pakistan, we need to eradicate the mindset of terrorism to defeat extremism and sectarianism,” said Sharif in the televised speech. “This horrendous attack has shaken the nation … the terrorists struck the future of this country, when they murdered those children.”
The plan also includes cutting financial aid to terrorists and preventing banned organizations from operating with new names.
He also announced the formation of special anti-terrorism force and regularization of madrassahs.
The ambitious “plan of action” included a wide range of measures including constitutional amendments, banning space for terrorists in electronic and print media, destroying their communication systems, and the repatriation of Afghan refugees. “As a father I can under how heavy these coffins were for their parents,” he said referring to the victims of last Tuesday’s massacre. “With their blood, our children have drawn a line between us and terrorists,” he said.
The meeting took place at Prime Minister’s House in Islamabad.
“Only terrorists would be tried in these [military] courts and these would not be used for political objectives,” said the leader of the opposition Syed Khursheed Shah. “The aim of setting up military courts is to ensure the speedy trial of terrorists, there are so many loopholes in our judicial system and it has failed to deliver,” Shah said. He said the all the political parties had agreed to amend the Constitution to facilitate the establishment of the military courts.
The meeting also passed a unanimous resolution condemning the attack.
A list of the 20-point action plan follows:
1) The government has decided to enforce executions for terrorists sentenced to death. Implementation on this has begun.
2) To avoid criminals evading punishment due to weaknesses in the legal system, special trial courts will be established under military officers so such elements can be dealt with without delay. These courts will exist for two years. Constitutional amendments will be made for these courts.
3) No armed militant group or organization will be allowed to operate.
4) The anti-terrorism organization, NACTA, will be strengthened and activated.
5) Literature, newspapers and magazines that are spreading hate, violence sectarianism, extremism and intolerance will be investigated and taken action against.
6) All funding for terrorists and terrorist organizations will be eliminated.
7) Banned organizations will not be allowed to reestablish themselves under another name.
8) A special antiterrorism force will be created of 10,000 soldiers will be created.
9) Action is being taken to stop religious extremism and protect minorities.
10) The government will register and regulate all madrassahs.
11) Print and electronic media will be banned from glorifying the views of terrorists and terrorist organizations.
12) Reforms in FATA will be given priority to ensure the speedy return of internally displaced persons.
13) The communication networks of terrorists will be completely dismantled.
14) The government will take steps to stop the spread of terrorism on the Internet and social media.
15) There will be no space left for terrorism in any part of the country, including Punjab.
16) The ongoing operation in Karachi will continue until it accomplishes its goals.
17) For broader political consensus, stakeholders will work to empower the Balochistan government.
18) Decisive action will be taken against sectarian elements.
19) A comprehensive policy for the repatriation of Afghan refugees is being developed.
20) The government will focus on legislation to ensure provincial intelligence organizations get access to terrorists’ communication networks and anti-terrorism organizations.