PPP, PML-N agree on two-year extension for military courts

Military-courts

Speaker Ayaz Sadiq says a national security committee comprising NA, Senate leaders will be formed to oversee military courts

The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) Thursday reached an agreement to extend the military courts for another two-year timeframe to help clamp down on terrorists, their facilitators, abettors and financiers.

The PPP claimed they had agreed to a “conditional extension” of military courts for two years and voluntarily withdrawal from five of the nine recommendations it had initially proposed to be included in the government’s draft bill.

With PPP’s agreement, the bill is now likely to be passed unanimously. It is pertinent to mention here that other opposition parties, led by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had already agreed to the draft bill with some changes they had proposed.

Senator Aitzaz Ahsan—who was heading a four-member PPP negotiating panel—told media that four of the nine recommendations proposed by the opposition party will be incorporated in the draft bill to revive military courts.

Ahsan said that one of the conditions PPP withdrew was its demand that military courts should be presided over by a sessions judge or a military officer.

“Since we believe Pakistan is in a state of war and the enemy is attacking from everywhere, we have withdrawn some conditions,” the senator said.

Though there was no formal announcement, Pakistan Today believes that following recommendations made by PPP are more than likely to be incorporated in the final draft.

  • Accused to be produced within 24 hours before the concerned court.
  • Accused to be supplied with grounds of arrest within 24 hours.
  • Accused shall have right to engage a counsel of his choice.
  • Provisions of the Qanoon-i-Shahadat 1984 (Law of Evidence) shall apply.

 

National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq, who presided over the session, said a national security committee comprising National Assembly and Senate leaders will be formed to oversee military courts—as well as other matters related to curbing terrorism in the country.

He said the oversight committee comprising parliamentary leaders of both the houses will also plan a future line of action at the conclusion of the two-year period.

Sadiq said that the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) had reservations regarding the legal language of the bill, specifically with the phrase “terrorism in the name of religion”.

Their reservations will be addressed in the final draft, he added.

Sadiq said the amendments to the legislation will be tabled in the National Assembly today (Friday).

He said, “The bill will then be approved, hopefully with consensus, on Monday in the National Assembly, after which it will be brought before the Senate on Tuesday.”

Military courts had been ceased to work on Jan 7, 2017 after a sunset clause included in the legal provisions, under which the tribunals were established, expired.

Mian Abrar

The writer heads Pakistan Today's Islamabad Bureau. He has a special focus on counter-terrorism and inter-state relations in Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia regions.



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