In a fresh move, the Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Thursday turned down the execution of two inmates who were handed death sentence by the military court. The development came after families of the inmates challenged the military court’s ruling, claiming that the convicts were not given the opportunity of a free and fair trial. A single-member bench of the PHC suspended the sentence after hearing arguments of Barrister Mian Tajamal Shah, who had filed the petition on behalf of the convicts’ families. The petition stated that his clients including Afreen Khan and Fida Husain belonged to Swat and were convicted to death by a military court without observing the due process of law and providing an opportunity to defend themselves against the charges. The writ petition claimed that the convicts were detained a few years back from Swat and their families were since unaware of their whereabouts. Subsequently, the families learnt through national dailies about their conviction in a military court for alleged involvement in terrorist activities. In light of the writ petition, the PHC has admitted the case for regular hearing and issued notices to the respondents including the Interior Secretary and president of the military court. The PHC bench further ordered that until a final judgement in the case, the death sentence shall remain suspended. On December 22 this year, Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa had confirmed death sentences for 14 personnel convicted of involvement in terrorist activities. According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), they were involved in attacks on law enforcement agencies, communications infrastructure, police stations and educational institutions which also left innocent civilians dead. On October 18, the PHC has also set aside convictions of 74 persons by the military court, however, the interior minister has challenged the high court’s judgement in the Supreme Court and currently the verdict stands suspended. Published in Daily Times, December 28th 2018.