–PM Imran tasks Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Pervaiz Khattak to garner Opp’s support
ISLAMABAD: After announcing the decision to extend the tenure of the military courts, the federal government has decided to woo opposition parties, including the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), to garner enough support to pass the amendment.
The military courts’ tenure ended on January 7, 2019, and the government has stepped up efforts to extend their life for two further years.
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.
Last time, in 2017, the PPP initially opposed the extension in tenure but eventually supported the PML-N-moved amendment. The bill was passed overwhelmingly by the National Assembly.
However, this time it is PTI, which is on very poor terms with the opposition, given the initiation of accountability proceedings against the major politicians. And it needs a two-third majority to pass the bill. In addition, the government is already struggling with the formation of standing committees of the National Assembly.
Whereas, PPP is again opposing the bill. Its Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has publicly opposed any extension in the tenure of army-run courts. Bilawal had said he would vehemently oppose the extension of military courts as he had chided parliament for its role in renewing the courts’ tenure.
PML-N, on the other hand, has decided to keep mum over the issue for now. Its spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb in a TV show stated that the party hadn’t taken up the matter at that point.
In order to take the opposition on board, PM Imran Khan has constituted a two-member committee, comprising Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Defense Minister Pervez Khattak.
Both ministers will engage the members of the opposition parties on the issue by next week to get their consent and apprise the PM about the progress.
The military, however, says it is in government’s hands to extend the tenure.
ISPR Director General Major General Asif Ghafoor in a TV interview had said that the court disposed of 646 cases of total 717 since 2015.
“The military courts have awarded 345 convicts death sentences while 296 have been handed various sentences,” the spokesperson had said.