PESHAWAR: Jamiat Ulema-Islam-Fazl chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Thursday said if military courts were given a permanent status, it would be tantamount to confessing that the government had failed to achieve the targets of the National Action Plan.
The JUI-F chief told reporters at the party’s secretariat here that military courts were primarily set up for two years but he’d heard that those courts were given permanent status through amendments to the Constitution and relevant laws.
He said his party didn’t support such move and wanted the government to strengthen civil courts.
“The grant of extension to military courts will be a confession on part of the government that it has failed to achieve the goals of the NAP during the last two years,” he said.
JUI-F chief demands security for civil judges to try hardcore criminals
Mr. Fazl said not only giving military courts a permanent status would create an impression that the judges of civil courts were not bold but also it would be an insult to the judicial system.
He suggested that soldiers provide security to civil judges to try hardcore criminals in safe environment instead of military courts being given extension in tenure.
The government had established military courts in all provinces in Jan 2015 through 21st Amendment to the Constitution and amendment to the Army Act to conduct trial of civilian suspects on the charges of terrorism.
The establishment of military courts was part of the NAP, which was unveiled after terrorists attacked the Army Public School Peshawar on Dec 2016 and thus, killing 144 students and teachers.
The tenure of these courts will expire on Jan 7.
Maulana Rehman complained that military courts were set up to try the people associated with different religions, which was totally unfair.
He added that seminaries and specific people in society were targeted under the NAP.
The JUI-F chief said other factors for terrorism were ignored and that military courts were tasked with conducting trial of the people involved in religious terrorism.
Asked if he’d taken up the issue of military courts with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the recent meeting, he said a summary regarding the extension was sent to the interior ministry after his meeting with the premier.
He claimed ‘innocent people’ tried in military courts had been executed.
“Giving permanent status to military courts means a no confidence in civil courts and judicial system and our party will oppose it,” he said.
Mr. Fazl hailed the homecoming of Asif Zardari but cautiously commented when his opinion was sought about the former president and PPP leader’s decision to contest the National Assembly elections.
“I will not comment on whether Mr. Zardari should come to parliament or not but his decision indicates that the PPP leadership sitting in parliament cannot prove to be an alternative force,” he said.
The JUI-F chief said the PPP had taken major shifts in politics and was currently passing through ups and down.
He denied that the prime minister had given him the role of reconciliation with opposition parties.
“The last meeting between me and Nawaz Sharif was a normal meeting but the media created hype about it,” he said.
Mr. Fazl said commended the initiatives of Pakistan, China and Russia to step up efforts for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.
He said during a visit to Kabul, he also called for dialogue between the Afghan Taliban and Kabul and urged other powers to support peace initiatives of the three countries.
“Pakistan will have to play a key role in the restoration of peace in Afghanistan,” he said.
The JUI-F chief said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project was a huge opportunity of progress for Pakistan and therefore, it should not be politicised.
He said the government would address the genuine reservations of political parties on the proposed economic corridor.
Published in Dawn, December 30th, 2016