Islamabad - As many as 1671 army personnel are deputed in Saudi Arabia , the National Assembly was told on Monday.

Minister for Defence Khurram Dastgir Khan said in his written reply that 912 personnel had been deployed under Saudi Ministry of Defence while 759 had been under the Ministry of Interior of the kingdom.

Of the 912 personnel, 742 belong to the army, eight from Navy and 62 from the air force. The Pakistani forces serving under the Saudi Ministry of Interior comprised of 653 from military, 56 from navy and 50 from the air force.

Other than Saudi Arabia , the Pakistani forces are serving in seven other countries as well, the reply said.

After Saudi Arabia , the second largest number of Pakistanis armed forces’ personnel is deployed in Qatar.

There is one army person in Australia, 15 in Bahrain, four in Brunei and six in Jordan.

As many as 63 are serving in Oman, 629 in Qatar, and 66 are deployed in the United Arab Emirates.

These personnel are on deputation under various memoranda of understanding and agreements with the respective countries. The defence minister clarified that no financial cost was borne by Pakistan on account of the deputations.

He said that presently, a total of 6,118 Pakistani troops had been deployed on the United Nation missions.

In December 2013, a total of 7,684 troops were deployed in UN missions. From 2014, 2015 and 2016, the total number of troops deployed abroad was 7490, 7389 and 6893 respectively.

The highest number of Pakistani troops had been deployed in Congo, where 3491 personnel are serving currently. The second destination is the Central African Republic where 1,139 Pakistanis are serving.

486 cases tried by military

courts since 2015, NA told

The government on Monday told the National Assembly that 486 cases have been tried by military courts since 2015.

In his reply to the National Assembly Secretariat, Defence Minister Khurram Dastagir said that of the total 486 cases, 333 cases have been finalized and 186 individuals awarded death penalties and 79 given life imprisonment.

The reply further said that 101 cases were under trial, while 52 cases have been dropped.

According to the document, as many as 20 individuals were given 20-year rigorous imprisonment (RI), one individual 18-year, one 16-year and 13 were awarded 14-year RI.

Two were given sever-year rigorous imprisonment each, while only one individual was acquitted.

The cases against 52 individuals were dropped, the reply said.

The minister further said that 25 cases were pending in the military courts of appeal, while

He said that the army chief has received 151 mercy petitions against the sentences and he has rejected all of them.

President has processed or rejected 62 mercy petitions while 89 are under process with the Ministry of Interior.

The reply said that 74 cases were under process in superior courts. The Supreme Court is hearing 49 cases, the Lahore High Court, the Peshawar High Court and the Sindh High Court are processing three, six and 16 cases respectively, the reply said.

The military courts were established through an amendment to the Constitution in early 2015 for a period of two years. In January 2017, after three months of hectic consultations by parliamentary parties, the parliament revived the special courts for another two years, on the request of armed forces.

After the expiry of initial two years, the Inter-Services Public Relations announced that a total of 274 cases were tried and 161 individuals were awarded death sentences. As many as 12 were executed, while 113 were awarded varying degree imprisonments.

The special courts had remained controversial since they were established in the wake of the brutal terrorist attack on Army Public School Peshawar, where around 150 students were killed and as many injured.

Many believe that the judicial system must be reformed and instead of empowering the military to try civilians, the judicial system must be strengthened.

They argue that no matter how fair trial may be conducted in the military courts, it cannot be an alternative to the civilian courts where an accused enjoys the greater right to defence and has ample opportunity to prove his innocence.

Others believe that since terrorists have struck the very fabric of the society, they must be dealt with sternly to make the country safe. They argue that since the investigation system is flawed, no witness comes forward and due to lengthy and complicated legal procedures, the culprits ultimately go scot-free.

Last November, Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa reportedly expressed his concerns over the slow pace of transferring terrorism-related cases to military courts.

In a letter to Prime Minister Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Gen Bajwa wrote that no case had been forwarded to military courts for the last many months.

Reportedly, another 90 cases were in the process to be transferred to the military courts.