LAHORE - Pakistan People’s Party is trying to play smart on military court’s issue as its nine-point formula neither endorses nor revokes the idea, say the judicial experts.

According to experts, the formula lacks clarity and its idea to make the courts fully neither military nor the civil is may be due to the fact that it wants to show strong adherence to the democratic norms on the one hand as well as trying to show its commitment to the national cause against terrorism.

The move also shows a shift of the policy of the party, which also holds majority in the Senate, from its previous stand of January 2015 when it had supported 21st amendment and it seems the party is trying to take an independent stance to gain political mileage ahead of next year’s general elections.

The PPP now wants military courts for only one year and wants that a sessions or additional sessions judge should preside over with military officer assisting the judge. The last amendment skipped the right of judicial review by high courts under Article 199 which the PPP now demands along with production of the accused before the court within 24 hours of the arrest. It also demands application of Qanoon-i-Shahadat to the terror cases.

In the view of the experts if the PPP points are accepted they would not create a difference between the ordinary court and the one set up to meet a special purpose and such ambiguity would ultimately serve the interest of terrorists.

Former President of the Supreme Court Bar Association Barrister Ali Zafar says the PPP points will in fact help terrorism.

He said last time the military courts were established, which the PPP had also supported, with a view of streamlining the judicial system on the civil side in the meantime so that normal courts could readily supplant the military ones after they have functioned for two years.  “But nothing has been done and terror stares us in the face. The PPP points are a very clever ploy to put pressure for give and take and this move will not only bolster terrorism but will also hit at the implementation of National Action Plan as quick decision against terrorists and hardened criminals is a big help to its execution.”

“We can only regret the PPP points,” Barrister Ali added.

Former President SCBA Abid Hassan Minto said every party has a right to take an independent line yet addressing the cause of terror is more vital to end terrorism than setting up military courts, which is not a solution to the problem of terrorism.

Minto said had the NAP been implemented in letter and spirit, the terrorism would have been arrested even through the normal courts. He said in his view a court which is set up to exclusively convict is no court in the eye of law. He said the military courts do court martial as such they befit to try the army men and not the civilians.

Former President Lahore High Court Bar Association Ahmad Awais says constitutional rights engage a lawyer of choice and production before the court within 24 hours are also available to the accused before the military courts. As such PPP points do not carry anything new in this regard, he added.

However, Awais suspected underhand understanding between the ruling parties in the nine points as they feel the heat would be coming to them if nexus between corruption and terrorism surfaces through the courts. He said both sides are not acting honestly. The ex-LHCBA president stressed the need for evolving a strong intelligence network so that the terrorists could be nabbed before they execute their plan. It is more necessary than setting up special courts, he added.