Pakistan’s political parties have agreed to revive the controversial special military courts for trying “hardcore” militants for a period of two years amidst a surge in terror attacks across the country. The decision was taken after a marathon consultative session of government and opposition politicians chaired by Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq yesterday. “We have agreed to reestablish military courts for a period of two years, considering it is an issue of national importance,” Sadiq told reporters after the talks.
He said that the Constitution would be amended to introduce the military courts. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who was also part of the talks, said that the decision to revive military courts was made in view of the fact that the country is fighting a war against terrorism.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) of former president Asif Ali Zardari had opposed the courts but extended its support after some of his party’s proposals were accepted. PPP leader Aitzaz Ahsan said that the opposition had agreed to the proposal conditionally after consultation. “The government has agreed to four of the nine demands put forth by Pakistan People’s Party (PPP),” he said.
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Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the court would not target anyone for his religious beliefs. The religious parties still have some reservations over the language of the proposed law which would be addressed in the final draft, said Sadiq.
The military courts were initially established in January 2015 for two years after the December 2014 attack on the Army Public
School in Peshawar which had left 150 people, mostly children, dead. The military courts awarded death sentence to 161 militants and so far only 21 have been executed. Army had demanded to revive the courts for another two years to try more militants and punish them.
Pakistan this year witnessed a surge in terror attacks. Over 80 people were killed after an Islamic State (IS) suicide bomber blew himself up at the Lal Shahbaz Qalander dargah in Sehwan on February 18. A suicide bomber attacked a protest rally outside the Punjab assembly in Lahore on February 13, killing 14 people and injuring dozens.