Peshawar militants get death sentence. Has violence in Pakistan abated?

Pakistan continues to struggle with violent episodes since the Peshawar school attack last December.

Khuram Parvez/Reuters
People light candles in memory of victims of the Taliban attack on the Army Public School, along with others in a rally in Peshawar, December 17, 2014.

Pakistan has found eight militants guilty of links to last December’s Peshawar school attack, which left 145 people, mostly children, dead, the BBC reports.

The country’s military court sentenced seven of the accused to death and one to life imprisonment.

This verdict was made possible by Pakistan’s repeal of their seven-year moratorium on executions just days after the school massacre, in response to the tragedy.

Two hundred people have been put to death since December, many of them for crimes unrelated to terror, the BBC reports.

Constitutional reform, which granted military courts the power to try terror suspects, accompanied the change to the death penalty, the BBC notes.

Kamal Hyder, a local correspondent with Al Jazeera English, reports that Pakistanis were supportive of both measures.

“There is support on the ground. However, civil rights organizations would not be supporting the move, saying the death penalty should be abolished,” Hyder said. 

But none of the eight men found guilty directly took part in the attack. Those who did died in the assault, the BBC reports. 

Taliban militants had scaled the walls of the Army Public School and detonated a bomb before shooting indiscriminately as they walked through classrooms.

More than 100 people were injured in the siege that targeted “the school’s 1,100 students, most of whom where the children of army personnel,” CNN reported.

The Christian Science Monitor reported last year the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack and said it was in retaliation to the national military campaign against the Taliban in the country’s tribal areas – “an offensive the Taliban said has resulted in hundreds of civilian deaths, including children.”

The Monitor Editorial Board said last December: “For decades, Pakistan’s military tolerated or backed militant groups for religious reasons or for strategic purposes against India and Afghanistan. But a naive belief that there are good and bad jihadists may be coming to an end.”

Violence has continued to plague Pakistan’s cities and towns.

In May, a Taliban splinter group attacked a bus carrying Muslim pilgrims in Karachi and killed 45 people.

In March, suicide bombers attacked two Christian churches in Lahore, killing more than a dozen civilians and injuring 78.

A month earlier, the Taliban claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing at a Shiite mosque in Peshawar that killed 19 and injured 67.

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