Govt may face hitch in passing bill unanimously
ISLAMABAD – The government may not manage to unanimously pass ‘The (Twenty-Eight amendment) Bill 2017 and ‘Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act Bill 2017’ today (Tuesday) to reinstate military courts, as some lawmakers opposed the proposed law during the Monday’s National Assembly session.
Both coalition partners of the government, the JUI-F and the PkMAP have also set conditions to vote in favour of the bill seeking extension to the military courts. Independent MNA Jamshed Dasti has flatly refused to vote for the further extension, terming it against the constitution. The voting on the bill requires a two-third majority and with the support of the PPP, PTI and MQM it will be passed but not unanimously.
The (Twenty-Eighth Amendment) Bill and the Pakistan Army (Amendment) bill were tabled in the National Assembly on Monday. Both the bills will be put for a vote today to pave the way for the extension to military courts. The lawmakers from opposition and government’s allied parties accused the government of not improving the judicial system and relying on ‘military courts’ once again.
PPP’s Naveed Qamar, speaking on the bills, asked the government to form a parliamentary committee on the national security with the passage of the bill. “It is a shameful day, as once again we are ready for extension to military courts,” said Qamar, mentioning that the government could not improve the judicial system. “What else you will have after the military court’s formula to control terrorism,” he said, proposing that the families of arrested persons to trial in these courts should be informed about the trial. “There should be right to have a defence counsel,” he added.
Qamar said the PPP was supporting the bill conditionally explaining that the government should fulfil the commitments regarding the fair trial, the formation of the national security committee and reforms in the judicial system.
PTI’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi termed the extension as a failure of the government. “The government could not improve the judicial system and now once against asking to vote for its extension,” he said. Qureshi said that there was a need of hard work to get rid of it (military courts). MQM’s Sheikh Salahuddin proposed for the one-and-a-half-year extension of military courts. “The next government will take its own decision,” he said. He said that there was a need for oversight committee to monitor matters in military courts.
The MQM leader was of the view that Sharjeel Memon’s entry and arrest in Islamabad might be part of ‘deal’ with the government. “It seems from the sudden entry that it was part of a deal,” he said. Speaker rushed to intervene and clarified that it was not part of any deal.
JUI-F’s Naeema Kishwar said that her party will move its amendment today (Tuesday). “We (JUI-F) will move our amendment tomorrow with the hope that the government will accept it,” she said. She was of the view that the matter of extension to military court might not come to an end in only two years. “There should not be an exemption to anyone,” she said.
PkMAP chief Mehmood Achakzai also set conditions to support the legislation.
He said that extension would be injustice with those judges who refused to take oath under the PCO during the Musharraf era. “We all have taken oaths to safeguard the constitution,” he said. The PkMAP chief said the army should tender an apology for its mistakes of the past. Secondly, he said, the judges who took oath under the PCO should be condemned. “The judges who refused to take oath under PCO should be compensated,” he set the third condition adding that the workers who sacrificed and suffered for the sake of democracy should be declared as ‘heroes’.
Sheikh Rashid of the AML supporting the legislation said the system of appointment of judges in the country was not transparent and it should be reviewed. He said that all political parties were a product of martial laws.
Independent MNA Jamshed Dasti said that he would not support the bills and asked fellow members to oppose the extension to military courts.
Minister for Law Zahid Hamid at the fag end of proceedings, assured the opposition benches that the resolution about ‘parliamentary committee for national security’ would be moved after the passage of the constitutional amendment.