Islamabad - Six militants who plotted and aided Pakistan’s worst ever terrorist attack at a Peshawar school are set to be hanged after the army chief confirmed their death sentences last night.

All these men, belonging to the Tehrik e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), were convicted for their role in massacre at Peshawar’s Army Public School (APS) last December which claimed the lives of 151 people, including 141 children.

They had harboured and driven the killers who stormed into the school, raked the assembly hall with machine gun fire and stalked the corridors shooting children and teachers cowering in their classrooms. The gunmen were killed by the security forces but the attack left Pakistan in deep shock and provoked international outrage.

Those who aided and abetted them had been convicted for their role in this and other attacks in special military courts, established in the wake of the massacre to fast-track terrorist cases, earlier this year. Their death sentences however were delayed following a legal challenge to the constitutional amendment under which the military courts were established.

That challenge was rejected last week when the Supreme Court upheld the 21st Amendment and the military courts created under the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act 2015. Its ruling cleared the way for trying suspected terrorists in the new courts but said they must be given fair trails and the right to appeal.

Last night the ISPR said the men had been given fair trials, all legal formalities had been completed following their convictions, and Army Chief General Raheel Sharif had now confirmed their sentences.

“In view of the nature and gravity of offences preferred against each, seven terrorists (six of them for role in Peshawar attack) have been awarded death sentences,” a spokesman said.

Those facing the gallows include Hazrat Ali, who was found guilty of killing members of the security forces, kidnappings and raising funds for APS attack. Mujeebur Rehman had abetted an attack on the Pakistan Air Force base in Peshawar, and helped transport suicide bombers to the APS.

Another, Sabeel, had also supported both attacks, while Molvi Abdus Salam was convicted of harbouring the suicide bombers prior to the attacks and the assassinations of two army colonels and a civilian, director of the National Development Complex (NDC).

Taj Muhammad was convicted of attacking armed forces, harbouring the APS suicide bombers, and abetting the murder of the NDC director. The sixth terrorist to face execution is Ateequr Rehman. A seventh Taliban terrorist, KifayatUllah, who supported APS massacre and carrying out IED attacks was jailed for life.

General Raheel also confirmed the death sentence for a Jaish-e-Muhammad terrorist, Muhammad Farhan, who launched an IED attack on Pakistan Rangers in Karachi.

The condemned men have exhausted the military trial process and their only hope now lies in the condition imposed on the new military courts that all found guilty have the right to a judicial review of their conviction.

The condemned men can appeal to an appellate court set up under the Pakistan Army Act 1952 and their families can challenge the verdict in the High Courts under Article 199 or the Supreme Court under Article 184(3) of the Constitution.

The apex court had said in its judgement that government decision to select, refer or transfer the case of any accused for trial in military courts and the decision taken by these courts are subject to judicial review both by the High Courts and by the Supreme Court on the grounds of “coram-non-judice, being without jurisdiction or suffering from mala fides including malice in law”.