ISLAMABAD - The government on Saturday presented in the National Assembly two bills seeking constitutional amendments to pave way for speedy trial of offences relating to terrorism, waging of war, insurrection and rebellion against the state.

The bills, ‘The Constitution (Twenty First Amendment) Act, 2015’ and ‘Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act,2015’, were laid before the assembly by Pervaiz Rashid, the Minister for Information and Law, Justice and Human Rights.

The move follows the consensus of all parliamentary parties for the establishment of special military courts in the country. Two motions to dispense with other business of the day to take into consideration the bills were also presented in the house, which were approved by Speaker Ayaz Sadiq.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) had given its nod for the establishment of special military courts in Friday’s all parties’ conference (APC), yet it preferred to stay away from the proceedings, probably because its lawmakers have submitted their resignation in assemblies couple of months before.

Both the bills state that the amendments they bring “shall remain in force for a period of two years from the date of its commencement and shall cease to form part of the constitution and shall stand repealed on the expiration of the said period”. The period of operation of first bill, ‘Pakistan Army Act 1952’, is however extendable through a resolution passed by each house of the parliament.

According to the statement of objects and reasons of the first bill, “An extraordinary situation and circumstances exist which demand special measures for speedy trials of certain offences relating to terrorism, waging of war or insurrection against Pakistan and prevention the security of Pakistan by any terrorist group using the name of religion or a sect and members of such armed groups, wing and militia.”

It adds, “There exists grave and unprecedented threat to the integrity of Pakistan by the raising of arms and insurgency using the name of religion and sect by groups of foreign and locally funded elements including warriors using the name of the religion or a sect who are to be severely dealt with under the law.”

The amendment bill says, “Any person who is or claims or is known to belong to any terrorist groups or organisation using the name of religion or a sect and raises arms or wages war against Pakistan or attacks the armed forces of Pakistan and law enforcement agencies, or attacks any civil or military installation in Pakistan or kidnaps any persons for ransom or causes death of any person or injury, or is in possession, storage, fabrication or transport of explosive , fire-arms, instruments, articles, suicide jackets or vehicles designed to be used for terrorists acts, or receives or provides funding from any foreign or local sources for such illegal activities and acts or does any act to over-awe the state or any section of the public or insecurity in Pakistan or attempts to commit any of the said acts, within or outside Pakistan shall be punished under this act”.

The fourth clause of amendment says that any person who belongs to any terrorist group or organisation using terrorist group or organization of a sect, commit an offence shall be tried under this act. The new sub-section says the federal government shall have the power to transfer any proceedings in respect of any person who is accused of any offence falling under these clauses. “Any proceeding transferred under sub-section (4) shall be deemed to have been instituted under this act,” it says, adding that a case is transferred not necessary to record evidence which has already been recorded.

The second bill ‘Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan’, says it may be called the Constitution (Twenty First Amendment), 2015 after it is passed from the House. The amendment in the first schedule would affect The Pakistan Army Act 1952 (XXXIX of 1952), The Pakistan Air Force Act, 1952 (VI of 1953), The Pakistan Navy Ordinance, 1961 (XXXV of 1961) and The Protection of Pakistan Act, 014 (X of 2014).

According the statement of objects and reasons, “An extraordinary situation and circumstances exist which demanded special measures for speedy trial of offences relating to terrorism , waging war or insurrection against Pakistan and prevention of acts threatening the security of Pakistan.”

“There exists grave and unprecedented threat to the territorial integrity of Pakistan by miscreants, terrorists and foreign funded elements. Since there is an extraordinary situation as stated above it is expedient that an appropriate amendment is made in the constitution,” it added.

Speaker Ayaz Sadiq, soon after presenting both the bills, immediately adjourned the house till Monday for debate and adopted the proposed amendments. The house which was giving a deserted look since its start witnessed comparatively better attendance of lawmakers, mainly from treasury benches. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also took part in the sitting. Both the amendment bills would also be presented in the Upper House on Monday.

MINISTRY ISSUED ‘NOTICE OF AMENDMENT’

APP adds: Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights has issued ‘Notice of Amendment’, inserting few more words in Pakistan Army (Amendment) Bill 2015 tabled in National Assembly on Saturday.

According to Notice of Amendment issued by the Ministry of Law, as per details “In Clause 2, sub-clause (1), in paragraph (a), in the proposed sub-paragraph (iv), after the word “sect”  occurring in the third line, the words would be inserted as “and raises arms or wages war against Pakistan”.

Notice of Amendment has been given after Chief of Jamiat Ulama-e-Islam (F) Maulana Fazlur Rehman pointed to add above-mentioned words.