Pakistan’s political parties on Tuesday agreed in principle to revive the controversial military courts for another two years for speedy trial of terrorists, after a fresh wave of suicide attacks killed over 125 people recently. The military courts were set up in January 2015 for a two year term after a constitutional amendment following a terror attack on an army-run school in Peshawar in December 2014 that killed over 150 people, mostly students.
Since their expiry last month, government has been trying to bring the political parties around the idea of another tenure for military courts.
The parliamentary leaders of major political parties met in Islamabad and agreed to amend the constitution to extend the military courts for a period of two years.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi informed media about the decision.
However, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has some reservations and has called an All-Party Conference on March 4 to evolve general consensus.
But the government is hopeful that PPP would be ready to support the idea by March 6 when government would convene the parliament session to present an amendment in constitution to set up speedy trial courts.
The government can also set up the court even without the support of PPP as it enjoys the backing of PTI of Imran Khan on the issue, but is trying for major consensus.
“The parties have agreed that the conditions [in the country] are still unusual. Circumstances threatening Pakistan’s integrity are still prevalent. We have all agreed on this and there is a need for the extension,” Qureshi told media.
The military courts work in secrecy due to fear of backlash by militants. Rights group have slammed the military courts.
The courts were given 275 cases during two-year and they sentenced 161 terrorists to death, whereas another 116 were given varying jail terms, mostly life sentences.
According to latest Amnesty International data on executions around the world, Pakistan is on the five death penalty purveyors in the world, behind only China and Iran.