Military courts: Voting on constitutional amendment deferred till Tuesday

nawazISLAMABAD: The federal government on Monday deferred until Tuesday voting on the two government bills aimed to set up constitutionally protected military courts to try civilian terrorism suspects.

Members of the National Assembly had arrived in Parliament today to vote on the two bills – the Constitution (Twenty-first Amendment) Bill and the Pakistan Army (Amendment).

But voting was deferred after the government fell short of the required two-thirds majority – 228 members – for the passage of the constitution amendments after Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman expressed reservations on the bill, saying his party would not vote in favour of the amendment in its current form.

Only 218 members were present during the National Assembly session today – 10 legislators short of the required number.

Voting on the bills is now expected to be held in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

Earlier addressing the session, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said a few years ago, no one would have thought that military courts will be established through a constitutional amendment.

“In a functioning democracy, military courts are very unusual. These courts are being established because Pakistan is faced with an extraordinary situation,” the interior minister said, adding that after 9/11, military courts were also established in the US.

Recalling some of the most horrific incidents of terror that the country has faced such as the 2009 Meena Bazaar attack, killings of Hazaras in Quetta and even the attacks on army personnel, the interior minister said everyone had mobilised and united to end terrorism once and for all.

The interior minister underscored that military courts will be installed for a limited period of time. “These courts are not for civilians. The general public will not be tried in military courts; they will be tried in judicial courts which will continue to hear cases which are not related to terrorism,” he said. Agencies

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