29 Dec- 2nd Jan

Story Highlights

Military Courts

Establishment of military courts under National Action Plan against terrorism remained the top story of the week in print media this week. National leadership is in the constant dialogue to reach a consensus over the formation of military courts to try hardened terrorists. During a meeting on Tuesday to review progress on the implementation of the National Action Plan for countering terrorism in the country, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif assured that the government will refer cases of only hardcore terrorists, involved in killing of soldiers and innocent citizens, to military courts.
Other political parties, however, have their own apprehensions about military courts. Parliamentarians in the Senate on Monday strongly opposed the formation of military courts and warned that constitutional amendments for this purpose would affect the basic structure of the constitution. PPP’s Senator Raza Rabbani said that the last time such courts, established under the PML-N government in 1998 through an ordinance, allowed military courts to try civilians for heinous crimes in Sindh.
Responding to the criticism from political parties, Prime Minister Sharif, on Wednesday, addressed the Senate and tried to address apprehensions of political parties. He said, “What we are doing lies within ambit of the constitution and no violation will take place in the process. If meaningful action is delayed today, the opportunity will be lost forever.”
Meanwhile army leadership is looking towards the political leadership for provision of legal cover to initiate the process. Army Chief General Raheel Sharif, on Thursday, stressed unity among all the State institutions against terrorism and urged the civilian leadership not to lose consensus against terrorism for petty issues.
According to media reports, each military court is to be headed by a brigadier-ranked officer and would comprise of other army officers not below the rank of lieutenant colonel. These courts will be working under the administrative ambit of Field General Court Martial (FGCM) and they would be supervised by the Adjutant General (AG) and Judge Advocate General (JAG) branches that would directly report to the General Headquarters (GHQ).

Petroleum Prices

A further decrease in petrol prices and imposition of additional General Sales Tax (GST) up to 22% on petroleum products was the second most covered story of the week. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced reduction in the prices of petroleum products. Addressing a news conference at the Parliament House, the prime minister said that government has more plans to give relief to the people. Media quoted prime minister as saying, “After reduction in petroleum prices since August 1, 2014, the government has given Rs 400 billion relief to the people.” He said that the government has faced a revenue loss of Rs 68 billion due to these steps, and to control the loss, the GST was increased which would recover Rs 17 billion.
Though the news of decrease in petroleum products brought relief to the masses but additional GST on it has raised questions as the decrease in petrol price in international market is significant as compared to the prices in Pakistan.

Detention of Mumbai Attack’s accused

Alleged mastermind of Mumbai Attack, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi was again taken into police custody in a six year old abduction case registered against him with Golra Police Station in Islamabad. Lakhvi was produced before the Islamabad Civil Court where the court granted physical remand of the accused.
Earlier, Lakhvi was granted bail by Islamabad High Court on December 18 on the pleas that there was not enough evidence to prove his involvement in Mumbai attack. The Court suspended the detention notification of Lakhvi and directed the federal government to submit its detailed reply in the court by January 15 in Mumbai attack case. Meanwhile. the federal government on Thursday pleaded the Supreme Court of Pakistan to defer the Islamabad High Court (IHC) order related to the suspension of Lakhvi’s detention.
Lakhvi was detained in Rawalpindi in 2009 after 2008 Mumbai Attacks in which 166 people were killed. Lakhvi is one of seven people on trial in Pakistan for the siege of Mumbai and is head of banned outfit Lashkar-e-Tayyaba.

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