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National Assembly votes overwhelmingly in favour of military courts

Updated Mar 21, 2017 08:16pm

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The National Assembly on Tuesday evening passed the 28th Constitutional Amendment Bill to reinstate military courts with 255 votes in favour and four against, surpassing the two-thirds majority required for the measure.

The bill, presented by Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid, states on the outset that "an extraordinary situation and circumstances still exist which demand continuation of the special measures adopted for expeditious disposal of certain offences" as the reasons necessitating the revival of military courts.

" ... [T]he Constitution (Twenty-first Amendment) Act, 2015 (I of 2015) was passed (with a sunset clause of two years) enabling trial under the Pakistan Army Act, 1952 for expeditious disposal of cases related to terrorism.

"These measures have yielded positive results in combating terrorism. It is, therefore, proposed to continue these special measures for a further period of two years through this Constitution Amendment Bill," reads the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the bill.

The 28th Constitutional Amendment will now be presented to Senate, where it will need two-thirds approval in order to become law.

If the bill is passed, it will reinstate military courts for a period of two years starting Jan 7, 2017 — the date on which military courts had lapsed under the previous arrangement.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, after an absence of seven months from the National Assembly, was present for Tuesday's session.

Lawmakers from the Jamiat-i-Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) abstained from voting on the bill, saying they had had reservations regarding its legal language, specifically with the phrase “terrorism in the name of religion”.

Criticising the government, Pakistan Muslim League-Zia MNA Ijazul Haq noted that if the National Action Plan had been implemented in letter and spirit, the need to revive military courts would not exist.

The Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act 2017 was also passed earlier in the session.

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

Till recently, the government and the opposition had struggled to reach a consensus on reviving the courts despite frequent discussions.

The primary concern of critics was 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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Comments (20) Closed



Abc of politics Mar 21, 2017 07:37pm

And now at Senate since PPP has majority,its members will show their whimsical attitudes and tantrums.

LIfe Mar 21, 2017 07:33pm

Back to square one.

ghaznavi Mar 21, 2017 07:37pm

@Abc of politics "And now at Senate since PPP has majority,its members will show their whimsical attitudes and tantrums."

In fact the PPP with bargain on the corruption cases

rauf Mar 21, 2017 07:52pm

Lets see how the PPP's "legal minds", Aitezaz and Rabbani vote for this bill.

optimist rajput Mar 21, 2017 07:57pm

@ghaznavi Yes i second your thought.

Alba Mar 21, 2017 07:53pm

Pakistan is under attack. Some people are in denial.

mywahala Mar 21, 2017 08:02pm

@Alba Old news.

Hafeez, Canada Mar 21, 2017 08:15pm

Thank you for taking security top priority. Now let courts work.

my Comments Mar 21, 2017 08:17pm

In a country where police departments and court systems work, no body talks about military courts.

Abdul Karim Mar 21, 2017 08:23pm

To combat terrorist militant, military courts is the right choice. 100% approve it.

Subhash bose Mar 21, 2017 08:19pm

Great guts of 4 members who opposed the resolution.

Hats off !!!

This also means Democracy exists in Pakistan. This is a great news.

LIfe Mar 21, 2017 08:30pm

@rauf : As per constitution, they have to vote as per party directives.

LIfe Mar 21, 2017 08:30pm

@Subhash bose :Count the 4 votes as 1 since all four were from same party and a member cannot vote against the party lines as per constitution.

Khwarizmi Mar 21, 2017 08:58pm

Jamiat-i-Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and his supporter(s) will never get my vote.

Mohammad S. Khalid Mar 21, 2017 09:45pm

Well done Parliament. A bold sign of Unity, Faith, and Discipline against terrorism.

LAHORI KID Mar 21, 2017 09:48pm

@LIfe A member cannot vote against his party, that's some kind of special democracy we have then

Changez Khan Mar 22, 2017 03:00am

Good job. Now let the Military put the terrorists to sleep.

Asif A Shah Mar 22, 2017 05:31am

I hope that the military courts render justice keeping in view the the Constitution of Pakistan, procedures laid out at the military tribunals of established democracies , Geneva Conventions and the United Nations Charter. Perhaps the swift justice is the need of the hour. However, it must be as fair as possible. Nobody should be victimized and no innocent person should be hanged.

HAHaha Mar 22, 2017 05:53am

So government has lost confidence on making their laws that can be applied to all the citizens. Just catch someone and put them through Militry justice! Real Militry Raj on entire country. government and administration can have freehand to work on CPEC, giving contracts to clean Karachi and approve budget for Militry...

Attaullah Mar 22, 2017 06:42am

Military courts deterred terrorism upto some extent.This was the step taken by the time of extreme uncertainty claiming the situation extraordinary.The extraordinary condition has not yet been driven to normalcy........Will we continue to extend these courts or our elected governments be able to govern?