Failure to punish masterminds of terror acts a major concern

ISLAMABAD: Although the military offensive Zarb-e-Azb has reduced the incidents of terrorism and reduced the impact of terrorism on the country’s economy but the failure to convict the terrorists still remains a major concern; apart from the two major terror incidents, masterminds of attacks on other sensitive installations are still at large.

According to a report jointly produced by Justice Project Pakistan and Reprieve, so far 818 out of 6872 prisoners who have been awarded death sentence are charged with terrorism whereas cases of 17,000 terrorists are still pending.

As per data in the report, 89 prisoners of death sentence are in Balochistan, which is 1.30 percent of the total; 183 (2.66 percent) in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 6269 (91.22 percent) in Punjab and 331 (4.82 percent) in Sindh.

The data further shows that 26 out of 89, or 29.21 percent of the total death sentenced prisoners in Balochistan, have been charged with terrorism. Similarly 20 (10.93 percent) out of 183 death sentence prisoners in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa have been charged with terrorism; 641 (10.22) out of 6269 prisoners in Punjab and 131 (39.58) out of 331 prisoners in Sindh have been charged with terrorism.

However, none of these prisoners include the masterminds of any high-profile terrorism incident. Although the men behind two major terrorism incidents i.e. Muhammad Aqeel alias Dr Usman, the mastermind of GHQ attack and his accomplice Arshed Mehmood were hanged and recently the army chief approved the death sentences of six hardcore terrorists involved in the attack on Army Public School and Safoora Chowrangi Karachi. Out of six terrorists, five were awarded death sentence and one life imprisonment by the military courts. M Sabir Shah alias Ikram Ullah s/o Sher Hazrat was given death sentence after he pleaded guilty to the murder of Advocate Syed Arshad Ali in Lahore. Hafiz Usman alias Abbas alias Asad s/o Ali Dost was tried on eleven charges including killing an advocate, two industrialists, four police officials, other civilians and sectarian killings in Quetta. He admitted his offence and was awarded the death sentence.

A TTP member Asad Ali alias Bhai Jan was tried on five charges including possession of arms and explosives and attacking officials of the Sindh Police in the Quaidabad area of Karachi which resulted in the death of three individuals. He pleaded guilty to these charges and was awarded the death sentence.

Another TTP member Tahir s/o Mir Shah Jahan was given death sentence after he admitted his involvement in attacking/breaking of Bannu Jail and killing one soldier and injuring another in an attack on LEAs.

Fateh Khan s/o Mukaram Khan was found involved in the murder of a civilian, attacking polio workers, individuals of law enforcement agencies and armed forces personnel which resulted in the death of a child, eleven Khasadars, two army officers and twenty-two soldiers. He admitted his offences and was awarded the death sentence.

Qari Ameen Shah alias Ameen s/o Minar Shah was found guilty of attack on a Girls Primary School in the Khyber Agency, providing funds for terrorist activities, exploding an improvised explosive device (IED) and possessing explosives and was awarded imprisonment for life.

It is pertinent to mention here that after the attack on the Army Public School (APS) Peshawar almost 100 death row prisoners were hanged within four months -from January 2015 to April 2015 but most of them were not charged with terrorism.

The security experts believe that the recent attack on the PAF Base Budaber is once again a massive failure of the security and intelligence agencies. It has once again raised serious questions on the role and capabilities of the intelligence who despite sharing 1046 threat alerts and 672 information reports failed to prevent an attack on a sensitive defence installation.

According to a study included in the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2014-15, the cumulative impact of terrorism adversely impacted the overall growth rate in all major sectors of the economy. Pakistan continues to pay a heavy price both in economic and security terms due to this situation and a substantial portion of national resources, both human and material, has been diverted to address the emerging security challenges for the last several years.

“The rise of violent extremism and increase in terrorism in Pakistan due to instability in Afghanistan not only caused serious damage to Pakistan’s economy but has also been responsible for widespread human suffering due to indiscriminate attacks against the civilian population,” says the Economic Survey of Pakistan.

However after the military offensive Zarb-e-Azb and adoption of the National Action Plan and its subsequent implementation, which is overseen by the apex committees of the provinces, there has been improvement in the overall security situation in Pakistan. The military operation against militants in the tribal areas has resulted in drastic reduction in the incidents of terrorism.



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