Islamabad - An intriguing situation arose when government announced that all political parties including PPP has agreed for the extension of army courts for another two years but PPP quickly rubbished the claim, saying it sticks to its nine-point demands made earlier on the issue.

All this started when Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, after attending a meeting of parliamentary leaders on Thursday, confidently told the media that all major parties have agreed to extend the duration of army courts for another two years through constitutional amendment.

Law Minister Zahid Hamid with the same confidence stamped the statements of finance minister, who claimed that Pakistan People’s Party had also agreed to extend military courts for two years and it withdrew its nine demands.

There were some technical and some core points: PPP has withdrawn one year extension demand and have agreed on two years; the party has also withdrawn demand of appointing a session or additional session judge in army courts, Dar told the media. He said the minor disagreements would be resolved amicably.

Dar said the law minister will prepare the bill for army courts extension and take care of all technical points. The bill, he said, will be presented tomorrow (Friday) in the National Assembly for approval.

Dar’s media talk was flashed on the TV screens and the channels repeated the news again and again with Breaking News tag.

Since the expiry of two-year time span the army courts ceased to exist at the start of this year. Either it is pressure from military or the recent wave of terrorism that government has been pursuing all parties hard to extend the army courts through a constitutional amendment but it had little luck.

During the last seven marathon sessions of the parliamentary leaders many claim that most of the leaders were unanimous on the issue but when they came out, they showed reservations. Among the dissenters were PTI’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi, JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman and MQM’s Dr Farooq Sattar.

Army courts had been controversial since they were announced in the wake of brutal terrorist attack on Army Public School Peshawar, where over hundred students were slaughtered in cold blood.

Many believe that the judicial system of the country must be reformed and instead of implementing a short term solution of empowering military courts to trial civilians, the judicial system must be strengthened.

They argue no matter how professional the trail in military court may be it cannot be an alternative to a trail in civilian court where an accused enjoys greater right to defence and has ample opportunity to prove his innocence.

The other side believes since the terrorists have infiltrated in the very fabric of the society they must be dealt with iron hands to make the country safe. They argue that since the investigation system is flawed no witness comes forward and due to lengthy and complicated legal procedures the culprit ultimately gets scot free.

The same reservations were echoed by political leaders. Most of the parties were unanimous that judicial system must be strengthened to end the need for army courts for trying terror accused.

Last week Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, after a parliamentary meeting, announced that all parties have agreed and National Assembly session would be called on March 6 to pass the bill for extending mandate of military courts.

PPP has been among those who showed reservations on extension matter but many were surprised when PPP leaders presented a nine point agenda hours before the National Assembly session on Monday.

The two major points of the agenda were extension for one year instead of two years and including a session judge in the army court.

Many were surprised when Dar announced that PPP has withdrawn all the demands. Hours later many were again surprised when PPP rubbished the government claim when it announced that it had not agreed to the draft legislative proposals prepared by the government for the revival of military courts.

In a statement, PPP spokesperson Farhatullah Babar said that reports about the PPP having agreed to the government’s draft were “not correct and are contradicted.”

He said, “The PPP totally and roundly rejects any statement purportedly issued by any official agency creating a false and erroneous impression of the PPP having agreed to the draft proposals of the government.”

Many believe the political parties of the country have started their campaigns for the next elections. Many view the matter of army court extension as part of their political campaign.