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Shahbaz to 'think about military court extension' if approached by PTI

Updated January 14, 2019

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PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif talks up military courts' success, says their fear was crucial in war against terrorism. — File
PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif talks up military courts' success, says their fear was crucial in war against terrorism. — File

PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif on Monday spoke in military courts' favour and hinted that his party could consider supporting an extension, if approached by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led government.

Earlier this month, the law ministry informed a National Assembly standing committee that the summary for a second extension in military courts has been forwarded to the federal cabinet for approval.

In December, PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had unequivocally said that his party would not support another extension to the military courts, whose current two-year term is set to expire in March.

While the PPP chairman, who had his reservations the last time as well, is unlikely to support the extension, his PML-N counterpart does not appear to oppose the idea.

"If the current government contacts us over the extension of military courts, we will think about it," Sharif told media representatives at Parliament House today.

The PML-N leader recalled that the military courts were formed during his sibling Nawaz Sharif's premiership, adding that "terrorism was eradicated due to the establishment of the military courts, Zarb-i-Azb and Radd-ul-Fasaad".

The leader of the opposition in the National Assembly credited the fear created from the military courts as a major factor in the war against terrorism.

Sharif's remarks are in line with those of his fellow PML-N leader Miftah Ismael, who recently said that his party will support the government in extension of tenure of military courts only if the PTI satisfies them in parliament on the issue.

“The military courts issue will be discussed in parliament. And if the government satisfied the PML-N lawmakers on the reasons behind extending term of the special courts, they will support the cause,” the former adviser on finance told the media on Sunday.

In March 2017, military courts were revived for the next two years after then president Mamnoon Hussain had ratified a NA bill on the matter.

The extension, however, had come after more than two months of deliberations and a tug of war between government and opposition parties over the technicalities of military courts' functioning.

The PML-N government at the time had argued that the revival of military courts was imperative keeping in view the "recent spate of terrorism in the country".