Senate move to fill military courts void

Published: December 30, 2016
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ISLAMABAD: The government is yet to officially make public measures proposed to deal with the vacuum once the tenures of military courts ended on January 7 next year, but the Senate said that it had already proposed a mechanism by adopting two bills earlier this year.

According to a press statement issued by the Senate Secretariat, an impression was being created in a section of the media that Parliament had not acted in a timely manner in connection with the expiry of the 21st (Amendment) Act of 2015, which dealt with the establishment of army courts.

The impression, the statement said, was factually incorrect as the Senate was aware that Parliament had legislated for setting up military courts as an exceptional step.

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“A Committee of the Whole House was constituted on May 18 last year. The Committee recommended two draft bills and special measures to improve the existing legislative and administrative mechanism for combating terrorism,” the statement said.

“The Report of the Committee was adopted by the House on December 31 last year and thereafter it was sent to the Government for implementation.

The two bills, namely the Anti-Terrorism Act (Amendment) Bill of 2015 and the Witness Protection Bill of 2015 were piloted by Senator Raja Muhammad Zafarul Haq, the Leader of the House, Senator Aitzaz Ahsan, the Leader of the Opposition and all parliamentary party leaders in the Senate, Senators Col (retd) Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi, Hasil Khan Bizenjo, Saeed Ghani, Muhammad Talha Mehmood, Mushahid Hussain Syed, Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, Muhammad Usman Khan Kakar, Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldini, Baz Muhammad Khan, Hidayatullah, Nauman Wazir Khattak, Sirajul Haq and Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah.

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The Senate unanimously passed both the bills on January 18 this year before sending them to the National Assembly.

The Senate secretariat stated that these bills had been passed with the intent to initiate the process of legislation well before deadline, besides providing a baseline to the government for improvising the same.

“The Senate … has already proposed a mechanism for filling the vacuum … which may occur after the January 7 next year,” it stated.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 30th, 2016.

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