PPP not to support extension to military courts


KARACHI: PPP leaders Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari chairing a party meeting at Bilawal House on Friday.—PPI
KARACHI: PPP leaders Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari chairing a party meeting at Bilawal House on Friday.—PPI

KARACHI: The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has made it clear that it will not support giving another extension to military courts and said this system is causing violation of human rights in the country.

The PPP leadership at a meeting of the party’s central executive committee held at Bilawal House here on Friday discussed various issues, including the military courts, the current state of national economy, calls for rolling back the 18th Amendment to the Constitution and the alleged non-seriousness of the government in parliamentary affairs.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, senior PPP leader Farhatullah Babar said that the party had decided that it would not support another extension to the military courts. He was flanked by former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

“The meeting has expressed serious concern over the issue of missing persons and that’s why it believes that the government should sign the convention on enforced disappearances. The situation of internment centres was also discussed and it was proposed to make their rules similar to regular jails.”

Says this system is causing violation of human rights in country

Mr Babar said the fact was that the internment centres in Fata were becoming ‘Guantanamo Bay prisons of Pakistan’.

When asked about the possibility of a change in the party’s stance on the issue of military courts, the PPP leaders appeared firm and came up with reasons for their stance, which again showed the violation of human rights as key concern behind its thought.

“The establishment of military courts was an extraordinary move in the extraordinary situation,” said Mr Babar.

He said: “Now the number of terrorism incidents has declined to significant level and it is a development which goes against the revival of military courts. And another thing which I mentioned earlier is our concern over violation of human rights. We have witnessed that there is a nexus between military courts and disappearance of people which is a quite dangerous trend.”

Mr Gilani explained the items of agenda which were discussed at the meeting jointly chaired by Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari. The party, he said, was quite concerned about the approaching mini-budget as inflation was already killing the common man’s life. He expressed the resolve on behalf of the party leaders to face the courts despite all reservations on the “politically-motivated” cases.

While pinning hopes on the change in the top judicial leadership in the country, the PPP expressed the hope that the new Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Asif Saeed Khosa would be able to run a free, fair and independent judicial system in the country. It hoped that the new CJP would dispose of the eight-year-old reference relating to former premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s death and the murder case of Benazir Bhutto.

“The PPP has always faced courts and come out of every crisis through its democratic struggle and legal fight,” Mr Gilani said.

“We are maintaining our history and no one should have doubts that we would go for any bargain or request for concession. But at the same time we hope the new chief justice would take up other key cases as well to set the course of history and correct the facts. We hope he would take up the 2011 presidential reference on Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s death and we would also get justice in BB [Benazir Bhutto] Shaheed [murder] case.”

In 2011, Mr Zardari as president of Pakistan had sent a reference through the law secretary to the Supreme Court to revisit the case of “judicial murder” of Zulfikar Bhutto, the PPP’s founding chairman.

Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2019