Pakistan school attack: Military courts to try terror suspects

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Media captionPrime Minister Sharif said criminals had taken advantage of weak laws

Pakistan is to establish military courts to hear terrorism-related cases in the wake of a massacre at a school.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the move would help ensure "terrorists pay the price" for their "heinous acts".

Last week, Taliban fighters attacked an army-run school in Peshawar, killing 152 people, including 133 children.

Pakistan's political parties reached agreement on the new courts after meeting to discuss a national plan of action to tackle terrorism.

Mr Sharif hosted talks at which most of Pakistan's mainstream political parties were represented.

Speaking after the meeting, he gave few details about the military courts but said the deal marked an historic achievement for Pakistan.

Earlier, he said the country was in an "extraordinary situation" that needed "extraordinary actions," adding: "This nation and history will not forgive us if we don't do anything now."

He said Pakistan's politicians "should not wait for another tragedy to strike before we finally wake up".

Other measures agreed were reported to include a crackdown on hate speech and the funding of terrorist organisations.

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Media captionThe BBC's Shaimaa Khalil met the family of one man due to be executed

Opposition leader Syed Khursheed Shah said the military courts would be established for a term of two years.

"Only terrorists would be tried in these courts and these would not be used for political objectives," he told the AFP news agency.

"The aim of setting up military courts is to ensure the speedy trial of terrorists. There are so many loopholes in our judicial system and it has failed to deliver," he added.

Pakistan has stepped up its anti-terror operations since the attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar on 16 December.

The government lifted a moratorium on the use of the death penalty shortly after the attack and has since executed six men.

The military has also stepped up its campaign against militants in the tribal areas in the northwest of the country.

"There is a changed Pakistan after the Peshawar tragedy, in which there will be no place for terrorism, extremism, sectarianism and intolerance," Mr Sharif said.