Process of establishing military courts has begun, says army

Updated 09 Jan 2015

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Army troops guard an entrance to the Malir Cantt in Karachi. – Agencies/file
Army troops guard an entrance to the Malir Cantt in Karachi. – Agencies/file

ISLAMABAD: Following the passage of the 21st Constitutional Amendment, the Pakistan Army on Friday announced that the process of establishing military courts has been initiated across the country.

An Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement issued here said that, “initially nine military courts are being established across the country… three courts each will be established in KP [Khyber Pakhtunkhwa] and Punjab, two in Sindh and one in Balochistan”.

“These courts will start functioning soon,” the statement added.

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President Mamnoon Hussain had signed the 21st Constitutional Amendment Bill after the presidency received the bills late on Tuesday night from the parliament secretariat.

Parliament earlier the same day adopted the bill and The Pakistan Army Amendment Bill 2015 unopposed after 247 members of the National Assembly and 78 members of the Senate voted in favour of the laws meant to set up constitutionally protected military courts to try civilian suspects of terrorism.

Read: Parliament passes 21st Constitutional Amendment, Army Act Amendment

According to highly placed sources, a meeting in Islamabad on Wednesday presided over by Interior Minister Chaudary Nisar Ali Khan stressed implementation of the National Action Plan at the provincial level.

Besides officials from the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), National Crisis and Management Cell and intelligence agencies, senior officers of the provincial home departments also attended the meeting, they added.

After several rounds of multi-party conference, also attended by the military leadership, political parties had reached a consensus last month over the issue of setting up military courts for tackling terrorism cases in the country.

Meanwhile, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has termed the Constitutional Amendment as a ‘collective suicide attack on democracy’ by parliamentary parties.

“Our stance against terrorism should be understood. Terrorists have been given an escape route through this law... for instance if any terrorist shaves his beard off and takes off his turban renaming himself as Saulat Mirza or Ajmal Pahari, then terrorism would be accepted and the terrorist would not be presented in a military court,” he said during a press conference on Thursday only to draw severe criticism from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).

A petition has also been filed in the Supreme Court, challenging the establishment of military courts. The petition states that the contentious amendment to establish military courts in the country is against the basic structure of the Constitution.