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Need for continuation of MCs

MILITARY courts (MCs), which were established in the aftermath of attack on Army Public School Peshawar in December 2014, to try civilians on terrorism charges, ceased to function on Sunday following the expiry of their second two- year constitutional term. Whether the courts get a further extension is yet to be seen as the government reportedly has shown the intent to give another two-year extension to the military courts. However, it lacks the support of opposition parties over the issue as it does not have the required two-thirds majority in any of the two houses of Parliament to carry out the constitutional amendment for the purpose.
In our view, there should not be any politics on issues of national importance and both the government and the opposition parties whilst rising above their differences should sit together and evolve a consensus on the matter without creating any muddle and also chart out a map aimed at also empowering the lower courts through judicial reforms to hear terrorism related cases. As far as military courts are concerned, one in fact cannot raise fingers on the transparency of military’s courts operations as they operate like any other civilian courts. Then the figures themselves speak about their utility and performance in dealing with terrorism. According to the International Commission of Jurists data, the conviction rate in these courts was above ninety nine percent. About 717 cases were referred to the courts out of which 646 were decided. The data further shows that only five accused of terrorism have been acquitted by the military courts. The fate of remaining seventy one pending cases is still uncertain as a decision about the future of these courts is yet to be taken by Parliament. The fact is that fight against terrorism is a national cause and the threat still persists, and we hope that all the political parties represented in Parliament would show the same solidarity and harmony as they did when the courts were established and the extension will be given to them in order to keep the fight against terrorism on track. The process of bringing reforms in the criminal justice system and the supporting administrative changes should also be started so that in future there is no need of military courts and our anti-terrorism courts and lower courts could themselves speedily proceed against the terrorists.