NA, Senate pass 21st Constitutional Amendment, Army Act Amendment

PTI, JI and JUI-F lawmakers abstain from voting; bill expected to be signed into law this week


Reuters/azam Khan/web Desk January 06, 2015
A file photo of National Assembly. PHOTO: APP

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly and Senate on Tuesday passed the 21st Constitutional Amendment Bill 2015 and Pakistan Army Act 1952  (Amendment) Bill 2015. 

The Constitutional Amendment Bill was passed with 247 votes - 14 more than the required two-third majority in the NA, and 78 votes out of 104 were passed in the Senate.

The amendment - aimed to set up special courts to try militants - was not opposed by any member present inside the house. Lawmakers from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Jamaat-e-Islami, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl and Sheikh Rasheed abstained from voting.

Each clause of the bill was voted for separately. The bill is now expected to be signed into law by the president this week.

It will stay on the books for two years, allowing special courts to try anyone accused of terrorism offences.

Earlier Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met parliamentarians to convince them to vote in favour of the proposed constitutional amendment and reiterated that the current extraordinary circumstances demand extraordinary measures.

The bill was presented in the National Assembly seeking changes in the Constitution and Military Act to speed up trial of terrorists after Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan gunmen killed over a hundred schoolchildren in an attack on December 16, 2014.

Despite political parties extending support to these steps in an all parties meeting, many dissenting voices marred yesterday's assembly session in which the bills were meant to be passed.

Voting was deferred till today and PM Nawaz held a meeting with other lawmakers at the Speaker's chamber to discuss the bill.

He requested all parliamentarians to inform their voters about the measures taken to eliminate the scourge of terrorism.

Govt will decide which cases are referred to military courts: Nawaz

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday said the government would decide which cases are referred to military courts.

The premier, while addressing the Senate shortly after the National Assembly passed the 21st Constitutional Amendment Bill 2015 and Pakistan Army Act 1952 (Amendment) Bill 2015, said all parties were a part of the decision-making process. He said these bills would play an important role in the fight against terror.

Nawaz further expressed confidence that the 20-point National Action Plan against terrorism would help restore durable peace in the country, according to Radio Pakistan.

The prime minister said the 21st Constitutional Amendment Bill 2015 and the Pakistan Army Act 1952 (Amendment) Bill 2015 would go a long way in effectively trying hardcore terrorists.

"Everyone gave advice regarding the amendments, and all parties unanimously agreed to them," the prime minister said, adding that he was hopeful of the bills being passed in the Upper House as well.

Further, the prime minister addressed the abstinence of votes in the NA, saying, "If they didn't vote in the NA, they should at least vote in the Senate. They have been harmed by terrorists as well."
Nawaz said the reservations of the parties who did not vote were addressed this morning as well as this afternoon.

COMMENTS (35)

T Khan | 6 years ago | Reply

Not sure if this is going to solve anything. The Government has the sole right to feed the cases to these courts, which, in Pakistan, means that whosoever we want killed will be put before the court but the ones we want to protect will never stand a trial... and the burden of care will be on Army if these people are not cleaned up. To naked eye it seems like a sham and way to win some more free time.

Igloo | 6 years ago | Reply

@Bewildered: What's the reason to be disappointed by them? They resigned from the parliament a while back so no question of voting for or against an amendment.

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