Pakistan leaders agree to set up military courts to try terroristsIslamabad: After initial reservations, Pakistan's political leaders today agreed to amend the Constitution to set up military courts for speedy trial of terrorists in the aftermath of the deadly Peshawar school attack.The decision was reached
Islamabad: After initial reservations, Pakistan's political leaders today agreed to amend the Constitution to set up military courts for speedy trial of terrorists in the aftermath of the deadly Peshawar school attack.
The decision was reached at a marathon meeting of leaders of all political parties led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the military leadership at the Prime Minister's House in Islamabad.
Minister for Information Pervaiz Rashid told media that leaders gave their consent to a constitutional amendment bill for creation of military courts.
“The bill will be presented in the National Assembly on Saturday and in the Senate on Tuesday and after it is passed by the two houses of parliament, it will become part of the constitution,” he said. He said that that the Army Act will also be amended.
Eminent lawyer Farough Naseem said that the leaders agreed that first Army Act should be amended to set up military courts and then constitution be amended to give legal cover to the changes made in the Army Act.
He said it was being done to preempt any action by the Supreme Court which in an earlier decision had already declared the setting up of Military Courts against the constitution.
Earlier, Prime Minister Sharif in his opening remarks said that time has come for final action against militants, as politicians differed over how to create military courts for speedy trial of militants.
“It is time for action against militants. Already a lot of discussion has been held on it,” said Sharif. “There is no room for further debate in the Parliament,” he said.
Sharif also said that adequate debate has taken place on the National Action Plan to deal with militancy which also suggested speedy trial of militants.
He said all political parties had played a major role in preparation of the National Action Plan for countering terrorism in the country.
Army chief General Raheel Sharif and ISI chief Lt-Gen Rizwan Akhtar also attended the meeting, as army put pressure on leaders to act fast for creation of military courts. Today's consensus was reached after differences popped up over the method on how to set up such courts.
Major parties that attended the meeting included Pakistan Peoples Party of Asif Ali Zardari, Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and others, who all had reservations about the military courts.
Former president Zardari last week said that such courts might be used against politicians.
These parties wanted to create the courts through changes in the Army Act, but now they have dropped the opposition and agreed to amend the Constitution.
It was the second meeting of parties after a similar meeting last month continued for 11 hours and agreed to set up military courts.
During today's meeting, Gen Sharif dismissed concerns that the special courts would strengthen the role of the powerful army, saying it was the need of “extraordinary times” and not the military's desire.
The political leaders and judges fear that the special courts would strengthen the role of the already powerful army in Pakistan where the military has ruled for decades. Former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry had also termed the proposed plan “unconstitutional”.
The Supreme Court had declared in 1999 the setting up of military courts as unconstitutional and illegal. Pakistan is struggling to come up with an adequate response to deal with militancy after the brutal Peshawar school massacre last month by the Taliban that killed 150 people including 134 children.