this report on a conference at the Karachi Press Club on Pakistan's new military courts. Excerpt:
Tracing the history of military courts in the country, Professor Tauseef Ahmed said that they offered no right to information. He said that the first military courts were established when riots erupted against the Ahmadis in Lahore and martial law was briefly imposed. “Maulana Maududi was tried and orders were given for his execution by a military court but no journalist was allowed to go to court for the trials.”
He said that military courts only strengthened ‘press release journalism’ as reporters were not allowed to cover the proceedings and were left dependent on press notes.
“The forces have said that the courts will be established in cantonment areas but have not disclosed the locations,” Ahmed said. He pointed out that in the case of Jam Saqi, journalists had been allowed to listen but could not independently report, instead they had to get their stories approved by presiding officers. “If reporters are not allowed to cover the hearings, militants will take advantage of the situation.”
Lawyer Ali Ahmad Kurd said that courts were meant to provide justice but there was no system of appeal in military courts. “There can be no justice without appeal,” he said. “Who can say if the punishment is right or wrong, or if justice is being provided?”
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