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Military courts resume in Pakistan

March 31, 2017

President Mamnoon Hussain on Friday gave his formal assent to the Pakistan Army Act 2017 and the 23rd Constitutional Amendment Bill ─ the two pieces of legislation aimed at granting legal cover to military courts.

When it was tabled the 28th Constitutional Amendment Bill was titled the the 23rd Constitutional Amendment Bill. However, it will now be called the 28th amendment bill.

It was presented along with the the Army Act 1952 before the Senate earlier this week.

Military courts were disbanded on January 7, 2017, 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 said the courts had acted as an "effective deterrent" for those considering violent acts.

Inquiry commission bill signed

The president also signed the Pakistan Commission of Inquiry Act 2017 which was presented by the government before the Senate in the wake of the Panamagate controversy last year.

The bill was introduced by the PML-N after then chief justice of Pakistan Anwar Zaheer Jamali refused to form a “toothless” inquiry commission on Panamagate under the erstwhile Pakistan Commission of Inquiry Act 1956.

Earlier this month, the Senate passed the government’s commission of inquiry bill with four amendments, one of which makes it mandatory for the government to make the commission’s report public within 30 days of submitting it.

The bill was presented in the National Assembly for a second time after the Senate made amendments to it. It was passed by the assembly last week.