LAHORE: A four-party alliance led by the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid has proposed at least two-year extension to military courts in its nine-point recommendations.
The PML-Q’s proposal came a day after the PPP gave its conditional consent to one-year extension to the military courts.
Matching with the PPP’s nine suggestions, the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) and Majlis Wahdatul Musalmeen (MWM) led by PML-Q proposed that military courts should be given an extension for two years and a parliamentary committee be constituted to monitor the cases sent to these courts.
The alliance gave nine-point recommendations after the meeting attended by PML-Q leaders Chaudhry Shujaat Husain and Pervaiz Elahi, PAT’s Khurram Nawaz Gandapur, Sahibzada Hamid Raza of SIC and Nasir Sherazi of MWM at the Chaudhry’s residence here on Tuesday.
The alliance has also proposed that the Model Town tragedy in which 14 PAT workers were killed in June 2014 should also be listed among major terrorism incidents such as blast at Sehwan Sharif, Quetta High Court attack, Gulshan Iqbal Park Lahore suicide bombing, etc and these cases should be tried in the military courts.
PAT had nominated Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and some federal and provincial ministers in the FIR of Model town killings.
“We are positive that one day justice will be done in the Model Town case. Like other terrorism incidents, the Model Town episode was also an act of terror and we strongly demand that this case should also be tried by a military court,” PML-Q Senator Kamil Ali
Agha told Dawn after the meeting.
Mr Agha said the alliance had proposed at least two-year extension to military courts so that during the period judicial reforms could be introduced enabling the traditional courts to deal with such cases. That would eliminate the need for military courts once for all, he added.
He said the PML-Q would present its recommendations to other parties as well to evolve consensus before tabling these in the parliament.
The PPP had proposed one-year extension to military courts that should be presided over by sessions judges along with military officials. “We think our nine points are more relevant than the PPP’s as these address the real issues of the criminal justice system,” Senator Agha said.
The alliance has also proposed that terrorism should be defined, explained and debated in the parliament, no political party or worker be victimised and political workers’ freedom of expression and media’s independence should not be affected under the proposed amendments.
It also suggested that public protest against price hike, governance, load shedding, law and order, unemployment and extra-democratic steps of the government, besides difference of political opinion and protest against local administration, should not be considered anti-state acts or terrorism.
The alliance also proposed that all stages -- from verdicts of the military courts to decision on the appeals -- should be completed in the shortest possible period.
Chaudhry Shujaat was critical of those making extension to military courts an issue. “We will not allow any attempt to make it (military court extension) an issue,” he said, adding military courts were needed because to convict culprits under ordinary laws was not possible and there had been examples of amending such laws in many countries, including US.
The PML-N government had established military courts for terrorists’ trials for two years in Jan 2015, in the aftermath of the Army Public School carnage in Peshawar.
Published in Dawn, March 8th, 2017