LAHORE -  The PML-Q, the Pakistan Awami Tehreek, the Sunni Ittehad Council and the Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen have also come forward with nine recommendations for extension of the military courts operation in the country.

However, the recommendations proposed by the four parties after a meeting of their top leadership in Lahore were entirely different from those forwarded by the PPP in its all parties conference held on March 4 in Islamabad.

The similarity of the view could be seen on a single point regarding giving right to accused to engage council of his/her choice in the proposed courts.

The meeting of the four parties was held at Chaudhrys’ House and hosted by PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain. PAT secretary general Khurram Nawaz Gandapur, SIC chief Sahibzada Hamid Raza and MWM central leader Nasir Sherazi attended the meeting. PML-Q senior leaders Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and Senator Kamil Ali Aga were also present on the occasion.

Military courts had been disbanded this year on Jan 7 after a sunset clause under which the tribunals were established expired. No consensus could be reached between the government and the opposition on extension in their tenure despite frequent meetings on the issue.

Although, majority of political parties except the PPP agreed on general points for giving extension to the military courts in a meeting hosted by ruling PML-N on Feb 28, differences on some clauses still existed among the parties. The PPP had not attended the Feb 28 meeting and hosted a separate APC on March 4 which was also attended by the PML-Q, MWM, PAT and SIC.

Ch Shujaat, after the Tuesday’s meeting, announced the nine points and said the recommendations would be submitted in the parliament for debate. 

The four parties backed the government proposal for giving two years extension to the military courts unlike the PPP’s demand for enhancing duration of the courts for only one year.

It was demanded that the word “terrorism” should be defined and explained through a debate in parliament.

The parties silent on the issue of fixing a time period announce verdict on a case rather they called for the announcement of decision in a “shortest possible time.”

It was suggested that the proposed amendments in the courts must not affect political workers and expression of views against the government and freedom of media.

The four parties strongly demanded that all major incidents of terrorism including tragedies of Model Town, Sehwan Sharif, Quetta High Court, Gulshan Iqbal Park Lahore, Jamia Naeemia, Alamdar Road Quetta and Shikarpur incident be tried in the military courts.

The parties backed the PPP’s proposal for giving right to the accused to engage lawyers of their choice in trial.

Unlike the PPP’s idea about inclusion of sessions judges proposed by the high courts’ chief justices, the parties proposed the formation of a parliamentary committee to keep check and balance on the working of the military courts.

The leaders of the parties did not demand inclusion of sessions judges or additional sessions judges in the military courts and opposed the PPP’s idea about right of a judicial review by the high courts on a verdict by military courts.

“Summary trial will not be possible when sessions judges will be included in the military courts. The objective of establishing military courts is army summary trial of terrorism cases because it is not possible to convict the culprits under ordinary laws and for this laws have been amended in many countries including USA,” Shujaat said when asked about the inclusion of sessions judges in the military courts as proposed by the PPP. He said that matter regarding extension of military courts should not be made an issue.

Ch Shujaat said that chaos and dishonesty were at peak in the country. He said relations with Iran were getting blurry whereas Afghanistan had already gone away from Pakistan.

He said he had no talks with former president Asif Ali Zardari regarding electoral reforms. He termed holding Pakistan Super League final in Lahore a good step from Pakistan Cricket Board.