The PPP on Thursday evening rubbished reports that the party had agreed to a two-year extension for military courts.

Earlier in the day, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar had told media after a meeting of parliamentarians in Islamabad that the PPP had "agreed" to a two-year extension for the parallel judicial system — a claim corroborated by Law Minister Zahid Hamid.

State-run broadcaster Radio Pakistan had also reported that political parties had agreed to extend military courts for a term of two years.

The PPP, however, slammed the reports and denied that any agreement had been reached on the legislative proposals prepared by the government to revive military courts.

"The PPP totally and roundly rejects any statement purportedly issued by any official agency creating a false and erroneous impression of the PPP having agreed to the draft proposals of the government," said a statement released by PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar.

The party had earlier pushed for a one-year extension and had also put forward nine recommendations of its own regarding the operations of military courts and how they should be handled moving forward.

In the second round of discussions on the issue, held today, the PPP had presented its demands but an agreement could be reached on only two of their nine points before the session concluded, Dar had said earlier.

PPP Central Information Secretary Chaudhry Manzoor, however, reiterated that the PPP had not let go of any of its proposals and will move its own amendments.

"These rumours have been spread by opponents of the PPP," he claimed.

After the meeting, the finance minister had also announced that a bill for constitutional amendments required for the re-instatement of military courts would be presented in the National Assembly on Friday, Radio Pakistan reported.

Dar said it had been decided that the government would present the Constitutional Amendment Bill and the Army Act Amendment Bill to the lower house, adding that all parliamentarians would have the right to bring their amendments to the house for debate and discussion.

The PPP's nine points include the recommendation that the provisions of the Qanoon-i-Shahadat, 1984 (Law of Evidence) apply to military courts and that the accused be granted the right to appeal.


The PPP's nine recommendations:

  • Military courts shall be presided over by one sessions judge or additional sessions judge with a military officer.
  • The sessions/additional sessions judge will be nominated by the chief justice of Pakistan.
  • Period will be for one year from starting date.
  • Right of judicial review by high courts under Article 199 of the Constitution.
  • High court shall decide case within 60 days.
  • Accused to be produced within 24 hours before the concerned court.
  • Accused to be supplied with grounds of arrest within 24 hours.
  • Accused shall have right to engage counsel of his choice.
  • Provisions of Qanoon-i-Shahadat 1984 shall apply.

Military courts had been disbanded on Jan 7 this year after a sunset clause included in the legal provisions under which the tribunals were established, expired.

The government and the opposition have since struggled to reach a consensus on reviving the courts despite frequent discussions.

The primary concern of critics is the mystery surrounding military court trials: no one knows who the convicts are, what charges have been brought against them, or what the accused's defence is against the allegations levelled.

Proponents say the courts act as an "effective deterrent" for those considering violent acts.

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