ISLAMABAD   -  Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry has said the PTI government believes the country still needs military courts, but it should be conditional on consensus among political parties. In an interview with BBC, he said that the government believes that the need for military courts continues to exist and their term would be extended if there is consensus among the political parties.

“The term of these military courts will be extended if the government succeeds in getting the political parties to agree on the matter. The government is trying to create political consensus and if the other political parties feel there is no need for another extension then there won’t be another extension,” the Minister said. The military courts that had been set up under the National Action Plan (NAP) in 2015 to try civilians on terrorism charges, ceased to function on Sunday, March 31 after their second two-year Constitutional term expired. The government is still seeking the cooperation of the Opposition parties for another extension, as it would require two-thirds majority in any of the two Houses of the Parliament to carry out the Constitutional amendment.

He said that military courts were an extraordinary step taken in extraordinary circumstances. He said that we believe the military courts delivered successfully.  There is still need of them, he said. “We are very close to defeating terrorism completely and we believe extension in their term is important. It would be good if they are extended again, but obviously it won’t be possible if there is no national consensus like there was at the time of NAP,” he added. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government had summoned a session with Opposition parties on March 28 to discuss the matter, but it was boycotted by the political parties. The PPP claims the government is yet to contact them over the issue.