Pakistan

PPP to convene APC to end military courts impasse

ISLAMABAD: As the impasse continues over the revival of military courts, the Pakistan People’s Party on Friday called for an All-Parties Conference on March 4 to make a final decision on the issue.

The seventh meeting of parliamentary bodies chaired by Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid has also been inconclusive and failed to make any progress over the contentious issue. The PPP had boycotted the previous session chaired by Speaker Ayaz Sadiq.

PPP leader Naveed Qamar said that the final decision will be made in the APC to be held in Islamabad on March 4. Abdul Qayyum of the PPP said that the co-chairmen Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari have started contact with heads of political parties over the meeting.

The PPP had boycotted the previous session as parliamentary bodies could not mutually agree of the definition of terrorism, and whether religious extremism should be included.

Zahid Hamid during the meeting said that an extension in military courts can be granted for two years instead of the proposed three years.

“If all parties agree, military courts can be revived for a period of two years (instead of three),” said Hamid. He also said that anti-state activities and violent acts against the state have been included.

However, the opposition parties were unmoved by the concessions by the government. Naveed Qamar stated that they will consult party leadership over the matter, and that the PPP intends to call an all-parties conference to finally settle the issue.

The parliamentary bodies also demanded that an interim sub-committee be established to decide the matter and deliberate the constitutional amendments over the matter.

The next meeting will be held on Tuesday when parliamentary leaders will present their views during the session of parliament after discussing the matter with their party leaders.

The government had established military courts for speedy trial of terrorists after the attack on Army Public School Peshawar in December 2014 in which over 135 people mostly children lost their lives.

In January 2015, the parliament passed the 21st Amendment to establish the military courts for terrorism offenses and acts threatening the security of Pakistan.

However, the courts were established for two years which ended on January 8 after which no efforts was made over the revival of the courts, while the issue had reignited after the recent wave of terror across the country.

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