ISLAMABAD: Top opposition groupings Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) reneged from their earlier pledge to back speedy trial courts run by military officers to prosecute hardcore militants. The move is seen as a serious setback to the government’s efforts for building consensus over the National Action Plan.
The two parties stood united in the parliamentary committee’s deliberations on an amendment regarding military courts on Tuesday, when both asked the government not to amend the constitution for the special courts, instead suggesting it to try the terrorists within the existing laws.
“Don’t amend the constitution — the National Action Plan can be executed without amending it,” observed Leader of Opposition in Senate Aitzaz Ahsan.
Aitzaz, who represents PPP in the committee deliberating proposed amendments, suggested a ‘meditative way’ to resolve the hurdles in execution of the action plan. He, however, complained that the government has not yet shared the promised amended draft pertaining to proposed constitutional amendments.
Although Aitzaz did not disclose his meditative plan, however a senior PPP leader told The Express Tribune that “PPP could agree upon amending the Army Act 1952” by explaining what does ‘meditative way’ mean for.
Talking about amending the Army Act 1952, Senator Raza Rabbani said: “It depends on the proposed amendments [in the Army Act] — we have to see into it.” But he opposed any amendment to the constitution for special courts, saying: “An amendment to the constitution with the effect of military courts will tantamount to altering the basic structure of the constitution.”
The PTI leadership in its Tuesday’s meeting has decided to oppose the idea of special courts run by the military officers, said Hamid Khan, who is representing his party in the committee. Khan was of the view that PML-N leadership is appeasing the military leadership by establish military courts to try civilians. It seems, he added, political parties don’t have the courage “to say no to military courts.”
PTI spokesperson Dr Shireen Mazari said: “In the committee, PTI’s effort to seek a solution to speedy trials, etc. within the existing constitutional framework was supported by PPP’s Aitzaz Ahsan and other parties’ representatives most of whom agreed with Hamid Khan and Aitzaz to see if an accommodation could be made within the existing constitutional framework. PTI, however, remains steadfast in its commitment made in the APC to fight terrorism with resolve and through a national consensus.”
Published in The Express Tribune, December 31st, 2014.