Perhaps following the example of Egypt, the US-client government of Mian Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, has extended military courts jurisdiction all over Pakistan.
The government stamped through the National Assembly and the Senate to
approve the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Bill 2015 as well as the 21st
Constitutional Amendment. It took less than 24 hours for both the houses to
approve the controversial legislation and the Constitutional Amendment. At one
time during the National Assembly vote a member of parliament complained that the
bill submitted for approval was different than the draft bill circulated to the
Members of National Assembly belonging to the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F (JUI-F) abstained from voting. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf of Imran Khan did not participate in the vote because it is boycotting the house proceedings while demanding an investigation into the May 2013 election which gave Nawaz Sharif absolute majority.
Major political parties were pushed to support the amendments in the hysteria created in the aftermath of last month's terrorist attack on an army public school in Peshawar that killed 132 students. Anybody who questioned this euphoria was silenced with iron fist. When Maulana Abdul Aziz, Imam of the Red Mosque questioned that the same sympathy was not shown to the dozens of students killed in the brutal army operation against the mosque in 2007, a vicious campaign was launched against the Imam and pro-army agitators demanded his arrest.
Under amendment in clause D of Army Act 1952, any person who belongs to any terrorist group or organization and uses the name of religion or a sect and wages war against Pakistan will be tried under this act. Those attacking the armed forces, the law enforcement agencies and any civil or military installations will also be punished under this act. The cases of kidnapping for ransom or the incidents causing death to any person or injury will also be brought to justice through this amendment.
Those in possession of explosive material, fire arms, suicide jackets or vehicles will also be tried under the act. The provisions of the two bills shall remain in force for a period of two years from the date of their commencement.
While no definition of terrorism was given, the JUI-F leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman, in a speech in the house objected to some passages of the bill citing groups "using religion and a sect" in describing terrorists to be punished by the proposed military courts, seeing the wording discriminatory against religious groups and madrasahs.
Commenting on the hurriedly passed Constitutional amendment and Pakistan Army Bill 2015, a leading English newspaper of Pakistan - Dawn - commented: Let there be no doubt why the country must now prepare to live under the shadow of military courts: the military leadership wanted these courts.
Columnist Dr. Ejaz Hussain, wrote in the Nation, another leading Pakistani newspaper: "Based on Pakistan's past experiences with military courts and given the norms of parliamentary democracy, the idea of military courts, in my view, will be counterproductive for the military itself. For instance, the present apex judiciary will view them as an encroachment on its constitutional rights and institutional space."
A pro-west think tank of Pakistan has issued a detailed paper in support of the military courts. Interestingly, the paper signatories include three retired army generals, one retired Air Vice Marshal and Police officer Dr. Shuaib Suddle, notorious for his brutal operation in Karachi in 1996.
The establishment of military courts came at a time when Pakistan's mercenary army has been bogged down in brutal operations in Pakistan's northern areas. The army launched at least six major operations in Pakistan's volatile tribal territories:
Operation Sherdil in
Bajaur in 2008/2009
Operation Sirat-e-Mustaqeem in Khyber Agency in June / July 2008
Operation Black Thunderstorm in Lower Dir and Swat in April 2009
Operation Rah-e-Rast in Swat in May 2009
Operation Rah-e-Nijat in South Waziristan June 2009
Operation Zarb-e-Azb in Northern Waziristan was launched in June 2014 and continues till today.
Besides these operations, in October 2007 an intensive battle was fought to retake Mir Ali, a major town of North Waziristan. In July 2007 the army launched a major operation called Operation Silence against Lal Masjid and Hafsa Madarsa in Islamabad in July 2007 killing dozens of seminary students.
The military operations in Pakistan's tribal territory along the border with Afghanistan continue, at the behest of the United States, behind a smoke screen. It is a no go area for newsmen or independent observers. The only source of casualties is Pakistan army's information bureau known as the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
Pakistan is paid by the US for its military operations from the Coalition Support Fund. According to Blumberg News, as of 2013, the U.S. had paid Pakistan $11 billion out of the Pentagon's coalition support fund budget as reimbursement for Pakistan's military efforts aiding U.S. counterterrorism operations. Pakistan received a $370 million installment from this fund in October last. The US Congress recently extended the Coalition Support Fund for Pakistan for a year. Pakistan will receive $300 million during fiscal year 2015 for its operations in the tribal territories.
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