Pakistan announces anti-terrorism action plan after school attack

Pakistan on Thursday said it will set up military courts for terror-related cases, as part of an ambitious anti-terrorism plan following a deadly Taliban school attack that killed 150 people. In a midnight address to the nation after almost 11 hours of deliberations with leaders of political parties, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said strong action was needed to root out extremism and warned no mercy would be shown to those behind attacks. He announced the establishment of military courts as part of the 17-point plan of action – a week after a six year moratorium on the death penalty was lifted for terror cases in the wake of the deadliest assault by militants in Pakistani history.

Only terrorists would be tried in these courts and these would not be used for political objectives.

Leader of the opposition Syed Khursheed Shah

The meeting took place at the prime minister’s house in Islamabad. It was called to chart out a plan to combat terrorism after the attack on the military-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar that killed mostly schoolchildren. Pakistan has described Tuesday’s bloody school rampage, claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), as its own “mini 9/11,” calling it a game-changer in the fight against extremism. The plan also includes cutting financial aid to terrorists and preventing banned organisations from operating with new names. He also announced the formation of special anti-terrorism force and regularisation of religious seminaries known as madrassas. The ambitious “plan of action” included a wide range of measures including constitutional ammendments, banning space for terrorists in electronic and print media, destroying their communication systems, and the repatriation of Afghan refugees.