ISLAMABAD: With a previously granted two-year extension to the military courts set to expire in March 2019, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Thursday disapproved parliament’s role in this regard, saying that he will object to another extension for the military courts at all forums.
Talking to journalists in Islamabad, Bilawal said, “I will oppose the extension of military courts’ laws at every forum.”
While regretting that such legislation was sanctioned in the first place, the PPP chief assailed the parliament for granting a two-year extension to military courts in 2017, terming it akin to the house “slashing off its nose”.
In March 2017, military courts were revived for the next two years after then president Mamnoon Hussain had ratified a National Assembly bill on the matter.
The extension, however, had come after more than two months of deliberations and a tug of war between government and opposition parties over the technicalities of military courts’ functioning.
The PML-N government at the time had argued that the revival of military courts was imperative keeping in view the issue of terrorism in the country.
The PPP, however, had opposed the extension, with veteran leader Naveed Qamar lamenting the state of affairs in the country and saying he “does not believe things will improve in the next two years even if the military courts are revived”.
The legislation was aimed at granting legal cover to the military courts for trying civilians charged with terrorism.
On Sunday, the Pakistan Army’s media wing had released the list of terrorists given death sentences since the establishment of military courts. 310 terrorists have been given death sentences in 717 terrorism cases sent by the federal government, ISPR said, adding that 546 of the 717 cases have been finalised by the military courts with 234 handed imprisonment sentences and 310 given the death penalty.