Will not back constitutional amendment in current form: Fazlur Rehman

Updated 05 Jan 2015

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Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman.—File photo
Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman.—File photo

ISLAMABAD: Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman said on Monday that his party will not support the 21st Constitutional Amendment bill in its current state.

“Although we were not in support of this (military courts) in principle, we accepted them when the government and state institutions said that it was an extraordinary situation. But we were not taken into confidence when the draft for the constitutional amendment was prepared,” he said.

“We believe that strict measure should be taken to control terrorism in Pakistan. But if only religious institutions are targeted, then it becomes controversial,” said Fazl, who is the leader of the largest religious political party in Pakistan's parliament.

Related: Military courts to try terror suspects: NA meets to vote on bills

The JUI-F chief said that all religious institutions were backing the military in the fight against terrorism, but he stressed that the bill for the constitutional amendment should be debated over and not be “bulldozed” in the Parliament today.

“Are these terrorist only caught from seminaries? Are they not arrested from hostels of colleges and universities? Were these terrorist involved in attacks on Musharraf and GHQ from madrassahs?

“They say themselves that 90 per cent of madrassahs [are not involved in terrorism]…only 10pc are. But this bill appears to be an ‘anonymous FIR’ against 90 per cent of seminaries [in Pakistan],” he said.

Fazl said that his party was ready to debate over the bill in Parliament if needed, but stressed that they will not support the amendment in its current form at any cost.

Later on while addressing the National Assembly, the JUI-F leader reiterated the same stance, saying that seminaries were the target of the proposed amendment.

The government called a session of the National Assembly on Monday to vote on two bills aimed to set up constitutionally protected military courts to try civilian terrorism suspects for up to two years.

The bills are aimed at speeding up trials of terrorism-related offences, waging of war against the state and prevention of acts threatening the security of Pakistan.

One bill seeks to amend the constitution to bar challenges before the superior courts and fix a two-year limit for the new legislative measure, and the other to amend the Pakistan Army Act of 1952 to extend the scope of the proposed speedy trial military courts to try civilians charged with crimes of terrorism and extremism.