Bill for extension to military courts presented in NA

*Major opposition parties support while govt's ally PkMAP opposes 28th Constitutional Amendment Bill in Lower House

Bill for extension to military courts presented in NA

ISLAMABAD: Major opposition parties on Monday supported the 28th Amendment Bill 2017 while government-ally Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai opposed it in the National Assembly.

The bill aims at giving military courts another two years. Law and Justice Minister Zahid Hamid moved the bill.

National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq said the voting on the bill would be carried out on Tuesday (today).

The bill demanded implementation of the law of evidence during the proceedings. The other points of the bill recommended that the suspect should be brought in front of a court within 24 hours and be entitled to have a lawyer of his choice.

The parliamentary parties on Thursday reached a consensus on establishing military courts in the country for another two years. The Pakistan People's Party president had earlier put forth nine recommendations to the government over the extension. The party had earlier boycotted the All Parties Conference sessions held on the subject.

The military courts set up in the aftermath of the Army Public School Attack in 2014, expired after their two-year-period in January this year. All cases being tried in the military courts were transferred to the anti-terrorism courts. However, a wave of terrorism which hit the country last month leaving over a hundred people dead resumed the debate on setting up the military courts for speedy trial and conviction of terrorists.

As the bill was presented in the NA, government-ally Mehmood Khan Achakzai opposed the extension of military courts. He said, "Among the judiciary there were judges who refuse to take oath under dictatorship and it would be the sad message for them. The entire legislators took oath to defend the Constitution of Pakistan but today we all were violating it."

In first case, Achakzai said, "My party supported the government because there was compulsion but this time we could not support the government."

Supporting the government bill, Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed said the country was passing through a critical situation. He advised the government to improve the existing judiciary system.

PPP lawmaker Naveed Qamar and PTI legislator Shah Mahmood Qureshi supported the bill conditionally. They explained that the government should fulfill the commitments regarding a fair trial, formation of national security committee and reforms in the judicial system.

Law Minister Zahid Hamid said that the government would fulfill the commitment of formation of a parliamentary committee on national security. Hamid also presented before the House "The Pakistan Army (Amendment) Bill, 2017" for consideration.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told the House during question hour that there should be politics on the verification of computerized national identity cards.

He said CNICs were mainly blocked in suspect, confirmed aliens and under verification categories. He said generally CNICs were blocked on the report of intelligence agencies, which could be unblocked on clearance and by submitting valid identification material like driving licence, old ration card or any proof of property.