Pakistani Supreme Court Upholds Military Tribunals; Afghan Civilian Casualties at New High; 29 Killed as Indian Trains Derail
Pakistan Supreme Court upholds military tribunals On Wednesday, Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled in a landmark 11-6 decision to dismiss all challenges to Pakistan’s establishment of military courts (ET, Dawn, Reuters). The decision did not sit well with some. Former Supreme Court Bar Association President Kamran Murtaza stated: “It’s a very disappointing verdict by the apex ...
Supreme Court upholds military tribunals
On Wednesday, Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled in a landmark 11-6 decision to dismiss all challenges to Pakistan’s establishment of military courts (ET, Dawn, Reuters). The decision did not sit well with some. Former Supreme Court Bar Association President Kamran Murtaza stated: “It’s a very disappointing verdict by the apex court. The court just upheld the doctrine of necessity. We are going to file a review petition against this judgment.” Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, on the other hand lauded the decision (ET, Dawn). Sharif told Pakistan’s National Assembly: “The historic decision of the Supreme Court will have a positive impact on Pakistan.” After the attack on the Peshawar Army School in December 2014, which killed 150 people, mostly young children, Pakistan amended its constitution to set up military courts to try terrorism suspects. According to Pakistan’s Law Ministry, 100 cases have been heard in the military courts so far of which at least 27 have been decided including six death sentences. The courts will remain in practice until February 2017. Bonus Read: “Changes in Pakistan’s Counter-Terrorism Legal Regime” by Zulfiqar Hameed (New America)
Rangers ask MQM to hand over 187 murder suspects
On Tuesday, reports emerged that the Rangers, a paramilitary force tasked with providing security in Karachi, had asked the MQM party to hand over 187 people suspected of murder (ET, Dawn). The men are allegedly involved in dozens of cases in which First Information Reports had been filed – mostly involving the killing of policemen by MQM’s militant wing in the 1990s. The letter conveying the request states: “The police officials who took part in the operation were later targeted and killed. It has been learnt that 187 individuals of the militant wing of the MQM were nominated in the FIRs of those killed police officials.” The letter comes amid increased tension between the MQM and the Rangers. On Tuesday, the Rangers warned: “militant wings in the garb of political parties were hatching conspiracies against the ongoing Karachi operation.”
Bonus Read: “In Afghanistan, Death Threats Shatter Dream of First Female Pilot,” by Margherita Stancati (WSJ)
Bonus Read: “Mullah Omar, We Hardly Knew Ye” by Rosa Brooks (FP)
UNAMA: Civilian casualties reach new high in first half of 2015
On Wednesday, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) released a report finding that the number of civilian casualties in the first half of 2015 equaled or exceeded the already high number of civilian casualties in the same period in 2014 (Pajhwok, TOLO News, LAT). The report documented 4,921 civilian casualties (1,592 deaths and 3,329 injured), a one percent increased from its findings in 2014. The report attributed responsibility for 70 percent of the casualties to anti-government forces. Nicholas Haysom, the head of UNAMA and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan stated: “Afghan civilians have suffered far too long from this destructive conflict.” While the report documented only a one percent rise in overall casualties, it found a 23 percent rise in casualties among women and a 13 percent rise in casualties among children. Haysom warned: “The cold statistics of civilian casualties do not adequately capture the horror of violence in Afghanistan, the torn bodies of children, mothers and daughters, sons and fathers.”
Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai replaces Taliban’s Qatar political office head
On Wednesday, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, a senior Taliban leader, replaced Sayed Tayyeb Agha as the head of the Taliban’s political office in Qatar (ET, Pajhwok). Agha resigned the day before criticizing the Taliban’s decision to keep Mullah Omar’s death secret and the process in which the Taliban chose its new leader Mullah Akhthar Mansoor. Stanekzai pledged his allegiance to Mansoor stating: “I and other members of the Political Office of the Islamic Emirate declare allegiance to the honourable Mullah Akhtar Mansoor. We consider this decision in accordance with Islamic Sharia and will follow his instructions.” Stanekzai was previously a health minister under the Taliban’s rule, a founding member of the Taliban’s Qatar office, and holds a masters degree in political science.
Drone strike kills 66 in Nangarhar
On Wednesday, a spokesman for the provincial governor of Nangarhar announced that a series of drone strikes in the province had killed at least 66 Taliban and ISIS members (Pajhwok, TOLO News). The spokesman stated: “Forty six Taliban insurgents were killed in Haskamina and Sherzad district and 20 Daesh fighters were killed in Haskamina district of the province.” He said there were no civilian casualties. ISIS and the Taliban have not commented on the strikes.
— David Sterman
29 killed as two trains derail in Madhya Pradesh
At least 29 people have been killed in the central state of Madhya Pradesh after two trains derailed within minutes of each other, on Tuesday night due to damaged tracks after flash floods (BBC, Guardian). One of the trains was on its way to Mumbai while the other was traveling in the opposite direction. The railway minister, Suresh Prabhu, said floodwaters had weakened the tracks. The head of the railway board, AK Mittal, told reporters there was no time to warn the trains. “Ten minutes back at this spot, train movement was normal. There was no problem,” Mittal said.
Heavy monsoon rains and the tail-end of a cyclone have killed more than 100 people across India in flooding, landslides, and building collapses in recent days. The crash reignited criticism about safety failures on the world’s fourth-largest rail network.
Police officials claim to have captured a Pakistani militant
Indian officials claim to have captured a Pakistani militant on Wednesday after a deadly attack on a military convoy in the disputed Kashmir region (Reuters. PTI). A group of militants attacked an army convoy in the south of Jammu and Kashmir state earlier on Wednesday, killing two soldiers and wounding eight. Official sources say that the militants fled into a nearby forest, taking three hostages. Soldiers later stormed a hilltop school where they were hiding, killing two of them and capturing one. Inspector General Police Danish Rana told reporters: “In our preliminary questioning, he has said he is from Faisalabad, Pakistan.”
The accusation could further raise tension between the nuclear-armed neighbors following a recent attack on an Indian police station in which seven people were killed and intermittent clashes on their disputed border in Kashmir.
— Shuja Malik
Edited by Peter Bergen
AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images
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