The National Assembly has finally passed the 28th Constitutional Amendment Bill for the revival of Military Courts with 255 votes in favour and 4 in against, surpassing the two-thirds majority required for the count. The 28th Constitutional Amendment Bill was presented by Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid stating that such situations still exist in the country that demand Military Courts to intervene.
On the occasion, PM Nawaz Sharif was also present in National Assembly today after a long gap of seven months. In order to become law, the 28th Constitutional Amendment will now be presented to Senate where two-third majority will also be needed for its approval. If the bill is passed, the military courts will be revived for two more years starting from 7th Jan, 2017, the date on which Military Courts had lapsed under the previous arrangement.
Representatives of Jamiyat-e-Ulema Islam – Fazal (JUI-F) restrained from voting on the bill quoting that they had reservations regarding to bill’s its legal aspect, specifically with the phrase of “Terrorism in the name of Religion”. Pakistan Muslim League – Zia’s MNA Ijaz-ul-Haq criticized the government and said that if the National Action Plan had been implemented properly, there won’t have been any reasons to revive the Military Courts.
Speaking on the scenario, Finance Minister Muhammad Ishaq Dar said the government has decided to revive the Military Courts in consensus with all the parliamentary political parties. He said it was agreed to revive the tenure of the military courts for next two years, keeping in view the current security situation in the country. The Parliamentary Committee on National Security that was constituted after the incident of Abbottabad will also be revived through a resolution and the committee will oversight the functioning of the Military Courts, Ishaq Dar said.
The Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act 2017 was also passed earlier in the session. The Military Courts terms was expired on 7th Jan this year. The government and the opposition had also struggled to reach a consensus on reviving the courts despite frequent discussions. The primary concern of critics was the trials of Military Courts; no one knows who the convicts are, what charges have been brought against them, or what the accuser’s defence is against the allegations leveled. Proponents say the courts act as an “effective deterrent” for those considering violent acts.