Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday to allow military trials for terror suspects — the latest in the government’s intensified campaign against terrorism in the wake of last year’s Taliban attack on a school that killed nearly 150 people, almost all of them children.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif welcomed the decision, which is seen as a major victory for his government, but critics and rights activists say it goes against the constitution and civil rights.
The ruling gives the green light for army courts to try civilians suspected in terrorism cases, said Zafrullah Khan, the government’s legal adviser. It followed several petitions that challenged a decision by parliament earlier this year to allow military courts to prosecute terror suspects over the next two years.
But the ruling also prompted concerns that the military courts could now sentence civilians to death in speedy trials held in secret, without due process or the oversight of human rights experts, the media or the public.