Impasse on revival of mily courts persists

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Zahid Chaudhary

Islamabad

Despite concessions offered by the government to the opposition for revival of military courts, the meeting of parliamentary leaders chaired by Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq again ended in stalemate on Friday, with further deliberations on the matter to be held on Tuesday next.
A decision on the tenure of military courts was referred to the sub-committee formed to deliberate the constitutional amendments required to revive military courts.
The sub-committee’s meeting, however, failed to settle the issue. In the meeting, chaired by Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid, the government agreed to revise its demand for a three-year period for military courts down to two.
“If all parties agree, military courts can be revived for a period of two years,” Hamid said.
“The proposal will be presented to our party leadership for approval,” PPP MNA Naveed Qamar said.
“The PPP is intent on calling an all-parties conference to discuss military courts and the constitutional amendments proposed by the government,” Qamar added. In the revision process, the government also added clauses to put anti-state activities within the purview of military courts.
“Anti-state activities and violent acts against the state have been included in our proposal,” Zahid Hamid said.
“The proposed amendments, along with a bill regarding necessary amendments to the Pakistan Army Act, will be sent to parliamentary leaders,” the law minister said.
“Parliamentary leaders will present their views on these issues in the Feb 28 session of parliament after consulting with their party leaders,” he added.
Pakistan Peoples Party has decided to convene an all parties conference on March 4 to deliberate on the issue of proposed extensions in the tenure of military courts.
According to a statement issued by PPP on Friday, the conference will be held in Islamabad in which the leadership of all political parties will be invited.
Military courts were established and granted permission to try civilians charged with terrorism in Jan 2015 after a terrorist attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar in Dec 2014. The courts have been non-functional since Jan 7 after the expiry of their two year tenure.

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