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Pakistan army chief confirms death penalty of 12 “Hardcore Terrorists”

Eleven convicts belonged to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and one to sectarian group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi were given death sentences for their heinous offences

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Pakistan's Army Chief General Raheel Sharif. Image source: www.newspakistan.tv
  • The army said all the men had admitted their offences before the magistrates and the trial court
  • Eleven convicts belonged to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and one to sectarian group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi
  • It is the second time in less than three months the army chief has confirmed the death penalty to the militants

Pakistan’s Army Chief General Raheel Sharif on Thursday, July 14, confirmed the death sentence of another 12 “hardcore terrorists”, who were involved in heinous offences, the military said.

An army statement said the terrorists were found guilty of “killing of civilians, attacking armed forces of Pakistan and law enforcement agencies, destruction of schools and communication infrastructure”.

These convicts were tried by military courts, a statement from the army’s Inter-Services Public Relations said, according to Xinhua.

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The army said all the men had admitted their offences before the magistrates and the trial court.

Eleven convicts belonged to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and one to sectarian group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

The army courts were set up after the terrorist attack on an army school in December 2014 for the speedy trial of the terrorism-related accused.

Pakistani police escorting head of banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Malik Ishaq in December 2014. Image source: AFP: Stringer, file photo
Pakistani police escorting head of banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Malik Ishaq in December 2014.
Image source: AFP: Stringer

The convicts have the right of appeal to the president under the law, according to the legal experts. The President has previously rejected all mercy petitions in terrorism-related cases.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had advised the President to reject all mercy petitions of the militants as they have been responsible for the killing of the security men and civilians.

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It is the second time in less than three months the army chief has confirmed the death penalty to the militants.

On May 12, Gen Raheel Sharif had confirmed the death sentence of a group of five “hardcore terrorists.” (IANS)

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US-Taliban Meeting Cancelled, 14 Members on “The US and UN Blacklist”

A day later, Pakistan’s information minister Fawad Chaudhry confirmed the talks during a press conference, calling it a “game changer.”

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US, Taliban, Pakistan
FILE - Taliban political chief Sher Muhammad Abbas Stanikzai, in the first row, second from left, Abdul Salam Hanafi and other Taliban officials pray during the intra-Afghan talks in Moscow, Feb. 6, 2019. VOA

An upcoming meeting in Pakistan between a delegation of the United States and Taliban representatives has been cancelled, according to information coming from both sides.

A Taliban leader confirmed, on condition of anonymity, that the meeting was cancelled, “by the Americans.” A Taliban statement issued later in the day said the talks were postponed because many members of its 14 person negotiating team were unable to go overseas since they are on “the US and UN blacklist.” Several of them are on the U.N. Security Council sanctions list which bars them from international travel.

Meanwhile, a U.S. official said Zalmay Khalilzad, who was supposed to lead the American delegation, is not planning to visit Islamabad this week.

US, China, Taliban
FILE – U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, center, speaks during a roundtable discussion with Afghan media at the U.S Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan Jan. 28, 2019. VOA

The U.S. said it had not received an official invitation from the government of Pakistan for this meeting which was first announced by Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid a couple of days ago.

Mujahid’s statement had set February 18 as the date of the talks and said a formal invitation had been issued by Pakistan. In addition, he said, the Taliban delegation would also meet the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

A day later, Pakistan’s information minister Fawad Chaudhry confirmed the talks during a press conference, calling it a “game changer.”

“The next round of negotiations with the Taliban will be in Pakistan, and as a result of these negotiations, there is a chance of stability in Afghanistan,” he said.

US, China, Taliban
FILE – Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan (R) speaks with U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad (3rd L) during a meeting at the Prime Minister’s office in Islamabad, Pakistan, in this handout photo released Jan. 18, 2018. VOA

Afghanistan’s Foreign Ministry reacted strongly to the announcement of a meeting in Islamabad, saying it was in violation of a United Nations Security Council resolution.

“#Afghanistan complains to #UNSecurityCouncil on #Pakistan’s engagements with the Taliban on which #Afg Govenrment is not consulted,” Tweeted Sibghatullah Admadi, a spokesman for the Afghan foreign office.

Previously, Afghanistan launched a similar complaint against Russia for allowing Taliban members to travel to Moscow for a conference in which nearly 50 Afghans, including various political leaders, former jihadi commanders, and civil society activists were invited. However, the Afghan government was not invited to that conference because the Taliban have so far refused to engage with the Kabul administration despite pressure from the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and others.

President Ashraf Ghani lashed out at those attending the conference saying they had no “executive authority” to make any agreements.

“Let hundreds of such meetings be held,” he said.

Some analysts say Ghani’s statements indicated his frustration at being left out of the negotiations between the Americans and the Taliban that first started last Summer. Since then, the two sides have held several rounds of talks.

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The last meeting in Doha early January lasted for six days and Khalilzad said the two sides had agreed “in principle” to a withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan in return for guarantees that Afghan soil will not be used by any terrorist groups or individuals.

Speaking in a public event at Washington based United States Institute of Peace, Khalilzad said the Taliban do not want to “sit with the government alone” because they did not want to give President Ghani an advantage in the presidential elections scheduled in July.

“There are indications that they will be willing to sit with the government in a multi-party arrangement,” he said. (VOA)