Pakistan’s military seeks tougher anti-terror laws


Islamabad : Pakistan’s military is pushing for tougher anti-terror laws under which the militants captured during the current security forces’ operations in the country’s troubled northwest can be tried.

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“The major objective of this proposal was to stop the terrorists from exploiting certain loopholes in the existing laws, commonly observed during proceedings when high-profile terrorists were put on trial,” The News reported Saturday.

The existing laws were framed during Nawaz Sharif’s second term as prime minister. Pervez Musharraf, who overthrew him in a military coup, further fine-tuned them – and then used them against Sharif.

The recommendation for further tightening the laws was made during a briefing for political leaders across the spectrum by army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parevz Kayani and other top military officers on the security forces’ anti-Taliban operations in three districts of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

Quoting sources, The News said that all those arrested during the NWFP operations would be tried for heinous crimes against the civilian population and, more importantly, for fighting against the army.

The military says that some 1,300 militants have been killed in the operations that began April 26 but no consolidated figures have been released about those captured.

The sources said during the briefing, some politicians wondered as to why no top Taliban leader had killed or arrested so far during the military operations.

To this, the military said the focus was on first getting the occupied areas cleared of the militants with minimum civilian casualties.

“The political leadership was told once the dust of the operation settled, they would come to know which top Taliban leader was killed,” The News said.

The military may say it is doing its best to avoid collateral damage but the brutal truth is that the fighting had triggered a huge civilian exodus, with the refugees at last count numbering in the region of three million.

The armed forces had gone into action after the Taliban reneged on a controversial peace deal with the NWFP government and instead moved south from their Swat headquarters and instead occupied Buner, which is just 100 km from Islamabad.

The operations had begun in Lower Dir, the home district of Taliban-backed radical cleric Sufi Muhammad who had brokered the peace deal and who is the father-in-law of Swat Taliban commander Maulana Fazlullah, and later spread to Buner and Swat.