The government and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) during a meeting in Islamabad on Wednesday failed to reach consensus over a two-year extension for military courts.

Despite today's being the fifth meeting discussing the draft bill on an extension in military courts, an impasse between the two parties persists.

"There has been no progress so far, and we have not come to a consensus regarding the draft bill yet," said Senator Aitzaz Ahsan who was heading a four-member PPP team comprising Farooq Naek, Sherry Rehman and Naveed Qamar.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Law Minister Zahid Hamid represented the government, whereas National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq facilitated the talks.

Ahsan told the press after the meeting, "We believe there is no chance that we will meet again with the government to negotiate our proposals."

After a failure to reach a consensus on the matter, the government and PPP have both decided to bring up the issue in a meeting of parliamentary leaders, PPP leader Naveed Qamar said.

He added that Sadiq was expected to convene a meeting of parliamentary leaders on Thursday.

"We will explain our position to parliamentary leaders and the government will tell its side of the story," Qamar said.

"We will be waiting for the meeting. Our nine points are very reasonable," he claimed.


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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