The military courts’ extension expired on January 6 but a constitutional amendment requesting another extension could not be passed due to lack of consensus between the government and opposition.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had extended the military courts’ period for two years in 2017. The courts were established in 2015 in the aftermath of Army Public School (APS) attack that had killed over 140 people, mostly children, to carry out swift justice in cases pertaining to terrorism.
It has been reported that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has planned to pass an amendment in the Pakistan Army Act 1952, which cannot go through unless there’s a two-thirds majority in both houses in its favour.
Meanwhile, pending cases shall be heard but new cases cannot be lodged.
On January 3, the Ministry of Law and Justice had told the National Assembly (NA) that the summary for a second extension in the tenure of military courts has been sent to the federal cabinet for approval.
It is however yet to be seen how the government would get the legislation approved, given it has less than a two-thirds majority and has been loggerheads with two main opposition parties, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and PML-N, ever since it came into power.
Though the PML-N is keeping mum on the matter, the PPP has stated not to support the courts anymore. PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has already disapproved of parliament’s role in this regard, saying that he would object to another extension for the military courts at all fora.