No consensus between opp, govt on military courts

* PPP rejects roadmap given by the government for granting extension

No consensus between opp, govt on military courts

ISLAMABAD: Differences between the government and opposition on the issue of extension to military courts intensified on Thursday, as the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) rejected the roadmap given by the government.

National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq has convened an important meeting of the leaders of parliamentary parties to discuss the issue of extension to military courts.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Federal Law Minster Zahid Hamid and State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmed represented the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), whereas Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Shireen Mazari, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Shazia Mari, Syed Naveed Qamar, Aftab Sherpao, Ghulam Ahmed Bilour and Sheikh Salahuddin represented the opposition. Government allies, including Mehmood Khan Achakzai and Maulana Attaur Rehman, also participated in the meeting. National Security Adviser Lt Gen (r) Nasir Januja attended the meeting on the special invitation of the speaker.

During the meeting, Janjua briefed the political leadership on the prevailing situation of law and order in the country, and also spoke on the war against terrorism, especially the ongoing operation Zarb-e-Azb. He said that the menace of terrorism had become a grave concern for the entire nation.

During his speech he also shed light on the internal and foreign affairs of the country. He told the meeting that it was yet to be decided whether the prime minister would call a meeting of the all-parties conference or not on the issue of extension to military courts.

Ishaq Dar said that if the matter would be resolved, there would be no need to convene an APC.

PPP leader Syed Naveed Qamar said that the government only showed its roadmap, but it had not been elucidated. "The behaviour of the government is non-serious. If the government amends the draft, the matter could move forward."

It may be mentioned here that the government had presented a draft for extension to military courts, on which both the opposition and government constituted subcommittee to finalise it. It was decided that before giving final touches to the legislation in this regard, all the political parties would take approval from their respective leaderships.

After the meeting, PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi told the media that it was the fifth meeting in which Nasir Janjua gave the briefing on the war against terrorism to parliamentarians.

Qureshi said that parliament gave approval to military courts some two years ago, but the government had failed to defeat terrorism during that period. "What guarantee is there that terrorism will be rooted out after extension to the tenure of military courts?" he asked.

He told journalists that the meeting agreed to form a subcommittee, whose meeting would be held on February 22, in which it would prepare a new draft.

All the political parties would take their top leadership into confidence on the matter, he said.

He said that the bill tabled by the government stated that speedy justice was need of the hour to eradicate terrorism from the country, so the law should be amended to extend the tenure of military courts for the period of three years.

Aftab Sherpao hoped that the matter would soon be resolved. The next meeting of the parliamentary leaders will be held on February 27.