Former President and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari has announced “Nine Recommendations” for an extension in Military Court’s Operations. He made it clear that his party is providing recommendations, not for the purpose of opposing the extension in Military Courts., he added.
Addressing a Press Conference, former President Asif Zardari said that they want such a law that defines terrorists and become a definition for terrorism. Their aim is not to dishearten their Armed Forces. He said that his party intended to present the points for parliamentary discussion eventually and they are also open to dialogue whether with the government or with the army as well.
He added that PPP had provided one year’s time to assess the law and that the PPP intended to pressurize the government to strengthen witness protection in Sindh and disburse funds to the provinces and judiciary for more effective implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP). He also added that there are weaknesses in NAP because Federal Government is not serious in its implementation.
Nine Recommendations by PPP
- Military Courts to be presided over by one sessions judge or additional sessions judge with a military officer.
- The sessions/additional sessions judge will be nominated by the Chief Justice of Pakistan.
- Period will be for one year from starting date.
- Right of Judicial Review by High Courts under Article 199 of the Constitution.
- High Court will decide case within 60 days.
- Accused to be produced within 24 Hours before the Concerned Court.
- Accused to be supplied with grounds of arrest within 24 hours.
- Accused shall have right to engage counsel of his choice.
- Provisions of Qanoon-e-Shahadat 1984 to be applied.
Finance Minister Responds
Finance Minister Muhammad Ishaq Dar while responding to the PPP’s Announcement has said that the government would examine the points being recommended by PPP and would provide copies of them to all Political Parties. There was consensus earlier on Two Years Extension in Military Courts, but PPP has suggested only one year, which will surely be discussed tomorrow or a day after, Dar added.
Law Minister Zahid Hamid also commented on PPP’s Recommendations and said that now there are new recommendations so they will have to examine them. The clerical amendments shouldn’t be an issue and through discussion with all political parties, they will try to reach consensus on this for once again, he added.
Extension in Military Courts
Military Courts have always been an issue of conflict between the Government and the Opposition. Military Courts had been disbanded this year on 07th Jan after a sunset clause under which the tribunals were established expired. No consensus was reached between the Government and Opposition to extend their tenure despite having frequent meetings on the respective issue.
However on 28th Feb, the majority of the Political Parties in power agreed to give extension to military courts for another two years. PPP Leaders did not attend the meeting who had earlier called an All Parties Conference on 04th March to discuss the matter with other political groups.