Military trials for civilians: Pakistan court says won’t allow army to take ‘illegal steps’

Military trials for civilians: Pakistan court says won’t allow army to take ‘illegal steps’
People are gathered outside the building of Supreme Court in Islamabad, Pakistan, on May 15, 2023. (AFP/File)
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Updated 03 August 2023
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Military trials for civilians: Pakistan court says won’t allow army to take ‘illegal steps’

Military trials for civilians: Pakistan court says won’t allow army to take ‘illegal steps’
  • Supreme Court hearing petitions filed by ex-PM Khan, others against civilians being tried under army laws
  • Justice Munib Akhtar says holding civilian trials in military courts will amount to running parallel judicial system

ISLAMABAD: Hearing a landmark case on the constitutionality of civilians being tried in military courts, Pakistan’s top court said on Thursday it would not let the country’s armed forces take “illegal steps.”

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s arrest in a land fraud case last month sparked widespread protests by his supporters who ransacked, among other properties, military facilities and installations. While Khan has since been released on bail, the military and government have said those who attacked army installations, including a top commander’s house, an air base, and the military’s headquarters in Rawalpindi, would be tried in military courts.

The military has since said 102 people were being tried by its courts in connection with the May 9 riots while 17 such courts were already functional. Khan’s party and others have filed petitions challenging the legality of civilian trials under army laws.

At the start of Thursday’s hearing, Chief Justice Umer Ata Bandial praised the military for practicing restraint during the May 9 protests while its properties were being damaged.

“However, the military will not be allowed to take any illegal steps,” he was quoted as saying by Dawn newspaper and other local media outlets. 

Justice Bandial said the court needed to hear Attorney General (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan’s arguments but the court would not be able to do so for at least two weeks due to the unavailability of judges on summer holidays. In the meantime, he instructed the AGP: “No military trials of civilians will be conducted.”

The CJP then adjourned the hearing indefinitely.

Justice Munib Akhtar, another justice on the six-member bench, said, “the concept of fundamental human rights is such that the state cannot take them back even if it wants to.”

He said civilian trials in military courts would amount to running a parallel judicial system.

Local and international human rights bodies have also raised alarm about the use of military courts for civilian cases, saying they infringe on due legal process. 


Pakistan protests to Afghanistan over militant attack on cantonment, killing eight soldiers

Pakistan protests to Afghanistan over militant attack on cantonment, killing eight soldiers
Updated 15 sec ago
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Pakistan protests to Afghanistan over militant attack on cantonment, killing eight soldiers

Pakistan protests to Afghanistan over militant attack on cantonment, killing eight soldiers
  • Eight soldiers killed while blocking militants from entering military cantonment in Bannu on Monday
  • Two soldiers, five civilians killed in militant attack on Rural Health Center in Dera Ismail Khan on Tuesday

ISLAMABAD: The deputy head of mission at the embassy of Afghanistan in Islamabad was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today, Wednesday, to deliver Pakistan’s “strong demarche” over a militant attack at an army cantonment this week in which eight soldiers were killed, the foreign office said.

Ten soldiers and five civilians were killed this week in two separate attacks in the country’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. In the first attack on Monday, militants tried to enter a cantonment in the city of Bannu and a suicide bomber rammed a vehicle loaded with explosives into a perimeter wall. Eight soldiers and ten militants were killed, the army said. 

In a second, separate, attack early Tuesday, five civilians, including two female health workers and two children, were killed in an attack on a health facility in the Dera Ismail Khan district. Two soldiers and all three militants were killed in subsequent clashes, the military said.

Pakistan has seen a surge in militancy in recent months that it blames on militants operating out of Afghanistan. Kabul denies that it allows its territory to be used by insurgents and says Pakistan’s security woes are a domestic issue.

“The terrorist attack [in Bannu] was carried out by the Hafiz Gul Bahadur Group based in Afghanistan. Hafiz Gul Bahadur Group, along with Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of civilians and law enforcement officials in multiple terrorist attacks inside Pakistan,” the foreign office said in a statement.

“The Interim Afghan Government was urged to fully investigate and take immediate, robust and effective action against the perpetrators of the Bannu attack and to prevent the recurrence of such attacks against Pakistan using the territory of Afghanistan.”

The foreign office said it had “serious concerns” about the presence of militant outfits inside Afghanistan that continued to threaten Pakistan’s security. 

“Such incidents also go against the spirit of bilateral relations between the two brotherly countries,” the foreign office added. “The Bannu Cantonment attack is yet another reminder of the serious threat posed by terrorism to regional peace and security. Pakistan reiterates the call for decisive action against terrorism and remains steadfast in its commitment to combat this menace and to uphold its security against all threats.”


Pakistan issues glacial lake flood warnings for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan regions

Pakistan issues glacial lake flood warnings for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan regions
Updated 25 min 11 sec ago
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Pakistan issues glacial lake flood warnings for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan regions

Pakistan issues glacial lake flood warnings for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan regions
  • Floods in 2022, brought by record monsoon rains and glacial melt, killed over 1,700 people and impacted 33 million people
  • NDMA recently launched Pak NDMA Disaster Alert application to provide timely alerts, adviseries and guidelines

ISLAMABAD: The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on Wednesday issued a glacial lake outburst flooding (GLOF) alert for Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and the mountainous northern region of Gilgit-Baltistan.

Floods in 2022, brought by record monsoon rains and glacial melt in northern mountains, killed over 1,700 people and impacted 33 million people out of a population of 220 million, sweeping away homes, vehicles, crops and livestock in damage estimated at $30 billion. 

“National Emergencies Operation Center (NEOC) has warned of possible glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF) in the mountainous regions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan due to rising temperatures and expected heavy rainfall from July 17 to 23, 2024,” the NDMA said in a statement. “This may lead to increased water levels in local rivers and streams, landslides, and flash flooding.”

The disaster management authority said it had directed the Provincial Disaster Management Authority of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as well as the Gilgit-Baltistan Disaster Management Authority to coordinate with relevant departments to ensure necessary preparations and emergency response measures. 

“Departments have been instructed to alert local communities, tourists, and travelers in the areas at risk and to avoid unnecessary travel. Mock drills should also be conducted in vulnerable areas to ensure timely evacuation and safety of people,” NDMA said. 

The authority recently launched the Pak NDMA Disaster Alert application, available on Google Play Store and iOS App Store, to provide timely alerts, adviseries and guidelines to the public.


Yaum-e-Ashura processions held across Pakistan amid heightened security

Yaum-e-Ashura processions held across Pakistan amid heightened security
Updated 41 min 58 sec ago
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Yaum-e-Ashura processions held across Pakistan amid heightened security

Yaum-e-Ashura processions held across Pakistan amid heightened security
  • Ashura is tenth day of Muharram when Shiite Muslims commemorate death of Imam Hussein
  • Interior ministry had approved army deployment across Pakistan to ensure peace during Muharram

ISLAMABAD: Hundreds of thousands of mourners took out processions across Pakistan on Wednesday amid heightened security measures to observe Yaum-e-Ashura, the holiest day on the Shiite Muslim calendar.

Yaum-e-Ashura is the tenth day of the Islamic month of Muharram when Shiite Muslims commemorate the seventh-century battlefield death of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), in Karbala, Iraq. 

“The martyrdom of Imam Hussain teaches us to stand firm against oppression,” Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said in a message to the public. “In today’s world, we witness the people of Palestine enduring immense hardships and making immense sacrifices for a great cause. Similarly people of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir are also suffering the atrocities of the oppressive forces.”

President Asif Ali Zardari said the martyrs of Karbala had given a lesson to the Muslim Ummah “to remain steadfast in the face of all kinds of brutalities and raise their voice against all evils,” state-run Radio Pakistan reported.

The interior ministry had approved army deployment across the country to ensure peace and security during the holy month of Muharram and had banned the use of drones during processions and gatherings.

The main procession in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore set out from Nisar Haveli in the Mohalla Chillah Bibian on Wednesday morning and will culminate at the Karbala Ghamay Shah Imambargah.

In Karachi, the main procession departed from Nishtar Park and will conclude at the Hussainiya Iraniyan Imam Bargah.

In Peshawar, the main procession began from GT Road and passed through Mukri Bazaar service road and is expected to conclude at 4pm, according to the City Traffic Police.


Daesh claims responsibility for mosque attack in Oman, four Pakistanis killed

Daesh claims responsibility for mosque attack in Oman, four Pakistanis killed
Updated 17 July 2024
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Daesh claims responsibility for mosque attack in Oman, four Pakistanis killed

Daesh claims responsibility for mosque attack in Oman, four Pakistanis killed
  • Attack took place at Shiite mosque in Wadi Al-Kabir in Omani capital of Muscat
  • Attack raises fears that Daesh may be trying to gain a foothold in new territory

ISLAMABAD: The Daesh group claimed responsibility for an attack at a Shiite Muslim mosque in Oman, the group said on Tuesday, which left at least nine people dead, including four Pakistanis, a rare security breach in the oil-producing Gulf state.

The attack on Monday, which is unusual in the wealthy Gulf state, raises fears that Daesh may be trying to gain a foothold in new territory.

“Three suicide attackers from the Islamic State attacked last night a gathering of Shiite (Muslims) while they were practicing their annual rituals at a temple in the Wadi Al-Kabir district in the (Omani) capital,” according to the group’s statement, which cited three security sources.

The Daesh fighters fired on Shiite worshippers and exchanged gunfire with Omani security forces until morning, the statement added.

Daesh late on Tuesday published what it said was a video of the attack on its Telegram site. The group also said that the attack left more than 30 Shiite Muslims and five Omani forces, including a police officer, killed or wounded.

“According to the latest information received from the Omani authorities, four Pakistanis were martyred as a result of gunshots in the dastardly terrorist attack on the Ali bin Abi Talib mosque in Wadi Kabeer area in Muscat,” the Pakistani foreign ministry said. “Another thirty Pakistanis are under treatment in hospitals.”

Videos shared by the embassy in Oman showed Pakistan’s ambassador to Oman Imran Ali visiting the injured in hospital. 

“This is my message to the Pakistani community that in this emergency situation, please don’t go toward Wadi Al-Kabir, that area is cordoned off,” Ali said in a video message recorded at a hospital. “If anyone has injured relatives, kindly please don’t give up on your patience.”

He said he had visited up to four hospitals and the injured people he had met were in “relatively” stable condition. 

“People in their homes, please stay safe, and don’t go there [toward Wadi Al-Kabir] because our information is that the emergency situation is still ongoing,” the ambassador concluded.

A handout from the embassy said the “terrorist” attack by “unknown assailants” took place around 11pm on Monday night on the Imam Bargah Ali bin Abu Talib in Wadi Al-Kabir. Authorities evacuated people from the area following the attack and started an operation around 230am.

“Assailants have taken worshippers hostages while reportedly [there are] several casualties; authorities have cordoned off the area,” it added. “Hostage evacuation has started now. Military units have reached.”

The Pakistani embassy’s Facebook page said emergency had been imposed at the Khulla Hospital, Nahida Hospital and Royal Hospital, which Ambassador Ali had visited. 

The attack comes during the Islamic month of Muharram, when Shiite Muslims commemorate the seventh-century battlefield martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).


IMF deal will improve Pakistan’s funding prospects — Moody’s

IMF deal will improve Pakistan’s funding prospects — Moody’s
Updated 17 July 2024
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IMF deal will improve Pakistan’s funding prospects — Moody’s

IMF deal will improve Pakistan’s funding prospects — Moody’s
  • Rating agency says government’s ability to sustain reform implementation will be key to continually unlocking financing
  • Capping talks that started in May, Pakistan and IMF reached bailout deal for $7 billion, 37-month loan program last week

ISLAMABAD: Rating agency Moody’s has said this week a new $7 billion bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund would improve funding for Pakistan from bilateral and multilateral partners but the ability to sustain reforms would be key to easing liquidity risks.

Pakistan and the IMF reached an agreement for a $7 billion, 37-month loan program last week, capping negotiations that started in May after Islamabad completed a short-term, $3 billion program that helped stabilize the economy, avert a sovereign debt default, and set challenging revenue targets in its budget to get IMF approval.

In a comment regarding the new IMF deal, Moody’s said, “the new IMF program will improve Pakistan’s (Caa3 stable) funding prospects.

“The program will provide credible sources of financing from the IMF and catalyze funding from other bilateral and multilateral partners to meet Pakistan’s external financing needs.”

However, the agency cautioned that the government’s ability to sustain reform implementation would be key to allowing Pakistan to continually unlock financing over the duration of the IMF program, leading to a durable easing of government liquidity risks.

The new IMF bailout deal comes with conditions of far-reaching reforms, such as measures to broaden the tax base and remove exemptions and make timely adjustments of energy enterprises’ management and privatization, phasing out agricultural support prices and associated subsidies, advancing anti-corruption, governance and transparency reforms, and gradually liberalizing trade policy.

A resurgence of social tensions on the back of high cost of living – which may increase because of higher taxes and future adjustments to energy tariffs – could weigh on reform implementation, Moody’s said. Moreover, risks that the coalition government may not have a sufficiently strong electoral mandate to continually implement difficult reforms remain, the rating agency said in the comment.

According to an IMF report published in May, Pakistan’s external financing needs are about $21 billion for fiscal 2025 (ending June 2025) and about $23 billion for fiscal 2026-27. The Moody’s agency said Pakistan’s external position remained fragile, with high external financing requirements over the next three to five years.

The country is vulnerable to policy slippages, it said, adding that weak governance and high social tensions can compound the government’s ability to advance reforms, jeopardizing its ability to complete reviews under the IMF program and unlock external financing.