Military courts cease to function as tenure ends

Govt needs two-thirds majority for amendment seeking extension


Our Correspondent March 31, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Military courts, which were set up under the National Action Plan (NAP) in 2015 to try civilians on terrorism charges, ceased to function on Sunday following the expiry of their second two-year constitutional term.

The government has already made the decision to give another extension of two years to the military courts. However, it lacks the support of opposition parties over the issue as it does not have the required two-thirds majority in any of the two houses of the Parliament to carry out the constitutional amendment for the purpose.

In its effort to generate consensus on the issue, the government had planned a meeting of parliamentary heads of opposition parties on March 28. However, due to the prevailing tense political situation, the opposition parties boycotted the meeting which led to its cancellation.

PPP opposes extension in military courts' tenure

While there is no official data available about the cases tried by the military courts, the National Assembly was informed in November last year that the military authorities had to decide 185 terrorism-related cases before expiry of their two-year term in March.

Defence Minister Pervez Khattak told the lower house that since the launch of the operation Zarb-e-Azb, the interior ministry had referred a total of 717 cases of terrorism to the military courts. Of the total cases, 185 were still under process and they had to be decided by March 30 when the two-year term of the courts would expire.

Giving details of the cases decided by the military courts, the minister had said that a total of 478 cases had been decided. He said a total of 284 convicts had been awarded death sentences and 56 of them had already been executed.

In August 2015, the Supreme Court upheld the establishment of military courts to try terror suspects in a majority ruling but said the superior judiciary could still review any judgement passed by them. In 2016, an SC larger bench also endorsed trial of militants conducted by these courts.

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