KARACHI: The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), the second largest opposition group, has announced it will oppose any extension in the term of the military courts set up in the wake of the December 2014 massacre of schoolchildren in Peshawar for speedy trial of hardcore terrorists.
"Military courts were for a short time period. The government then had claimed that it would soon contain the situation. We can't afford them [now]," said the PPP leader and former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani on Friday.
Gillani was addressing a press conference together with other PPP leaders – MNA Nafisa Shah, Farhatullah Babar and Sindh Information Adviser Murtaza Wahab – after a high level PPP meeting co-chaired by the PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari at Bilawal House.
He said the meeting discussed the current political situation, economic crisis, cases against the PPP top leaders and the issue of military courts. “We decided not to give nod to military courts,” he added.
Speaking on the occasion, Babar said: "We have serious reservations about extending tenure of the military courts. JITs [joint investigation teams] have already been militarised, so we don't want to militarise our judicial system."
Referring to the missing persons’ pending cases, he said whenever the judiciary asks about these cases, it is informed that the cases are in the military courts. “In the same way, we fear that other issues might also be militarised with our support on this issue," he added.
A PPP leader who attended the meeting told The Express Tribune there has been resentment in the party ranks over a possible extension in term of military courts.
“The previous situation compelled us to support the courts in 2015. Now, our stance is clear and we oppose the military courts," the party leader quoted Asif Ali Zardari as saying.
Military courts were set up in January 2015 through a constitutional amendment with a sunset set clause for two years. Their term was extended for another two years in January 2017 by the former Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government.
Cases against PPP leaders
Talking with reference to the money laundering investigation against the PPP leadership, Gillani said whenever Bilawal and Zardari talk about public interest issues the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) become hyper active. “But we will not bow down."
Gillani criticised federal government’s policies and said inflation has made lives of the poor miserable and the PPP could not tolerate it. Responding to a question about South Punjab province, he said ‘we’ need a full-fledged province with its own assembly, governor and judicial system.
“We don't need a weak administrative unit as being discussed by some elements," he said. Quoting party meeting’s decisions, he said the PPP will defend the cases against its leadership at every forum.
The meeting also announced to defend the 18 amendment by staging protest against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) government's ‘unpopular policies’ inside and outside the parliament. The party also decided to strengthen the grand opposition alliance in a bid to give a hard time to the government.
"In next the meeting with the opposition parties, a strategy will be developed for future. If needed we can jointly organise rallies and public meetings against the government policies," said the PPP leader.
The leaders who attended the meeting included Aitzaz Ahsan, Faryal Talpur, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Chaudhry Manzoor, Sherry Rehman, Khursheed Shah, Farooq H Naek, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and Faisal Kareem Kundi.
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