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Nishtar Park carnage, Abbas Town bombing cases to be tried by military courts

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KARACHI: The interior ministry has approved transfer of 90 terrorism cases, including the Nishtar Park and Abbas Town bomb blasts cases, to military courts for trial, it emerged on Friday.

Sources told The National Tribune that the federal government had approved a total of 90 cases for trial by military courts established under the Pakistan Army Act, 1952.

Suspects to be tried in these cases by the military courts are said to be associated with banned militant outfits, including Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ), Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Tehreek-i-Taliban Swat (TTS).

The interior ministry has sent 90 terrorism cases, including 13 from Sindh, to military courts for trial

The sources said that the home and tribal affairs department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Sindh home department had referred cases to the interior ministry in June and November, 2017, respectively, seeking transfer of trials to military courts.

Judicial sources told The National Tribune that 13 cases, including the 2006 Nishtar Park bombing, 2013 Abbas Town blast and armed attacks on law enforcers in Karachi, were referred by the Sindh home department.

The transfer of 90 cases, including 13 referred by the Sindh government, to military courts was approved, they added.

The sources said these cases were currently pending trial against 11 arrested and 14 absconding suspects in the antiterrorism and sessions’ courts concerned in Karachi and Sukkur since some held suspects had been shifted from the metropolis due to security concerns.

An official notification, a copy of which is available with The National Tribune, revealed that on top of the list of cases being sent for trial by military courts pertained to the Nishtar Park bombing which was pending trial before ATC-VII in Karachi since 2006.

More than 50 people, including several religious leaders, were killed and over 100 others wounded in the massive bombing that ripped through a 12th Rabiul Awwal congregation at Nishtar Park in April 2006.

Sultan Mahmood alias Saifullah, Mufti Zakir Hussain Siddiqui, Mohammad Amin alias Khalid Shaheen, and Rehmatullah, said to be associated with the banned LJ, were held for their alleged involvement in the act of terrorism.

Sultan has already been convicted in the Allama Hassan Turabi murder case.

Although the accused were arrested in 2007, the case, one of the major acts of terrorism in which the Sunni Tehreek lost its top leadership, was still fixed for evidence of prosecution witnesses.

Official documents stated that three suspects, Amanullah alias Mufti Ilyas, M. Khalid Abrar alias M. Yousuf and Qari Abid Iqbal were still at large.

The second high-profile case pertains to twin blasts targeting the Shia-dominated Abbas Town neighbourhood in Karachi in which around 50 people were killed and 150 were injured in March 2013.

Six suspects, including Khairuddin alias Mansoor, M. Ishaq, Inamullah alias Mola, Alam Sher alias Patay, Irfan and M. Shafiq alias Bashir — all said to be associated with LJ — have been arrested.

Despite the fact that the Supreme Court had taken suo motu notice of the deadly attack and had the Sindh government surrender the services of the then inspector general of police along with a DIG, the trial lingers on in court till this day, remarked a judicial officer.

The official added that nine other suspects including Fareedullah, Maulvi Khalid, Rehmat Usmani, Aslam Gul, Iqbal, Abid Muchchar, Hafiz Mehsood, Umar Mesood and Fida were still at large.

The cases of a suspected militant, Shaikh M. Mumtaz alias Firaun, who escaped from the Karachi Central Prison along with Mohammad Ahmed alias Munna, were also included in the list.

Mumtaz alias Firaun was allegedly involved in the killing of over 60 people.

Accused M. Ishaq alias Bobby alias Abdul Jabbar is also named in a case pertaining to the killings of law enforcers in Karachi.

The sources said that after approval by the interior ministry Karachi Corps Headquarters authorities had asked the Sindh government to hand over judicial files and custody of the accused persons to the military authorities concerned so that these cases could be finalised/disposed of expeditiously.

It was further requested of the provincial authorities to hand over the original files/record of the proceedings and case properties of the 13 cases to the authorised representatives of the Judge Advocate General branch of the corps headquarters/military courts authorities.