ISLAMABAD -  The government yesterday introduced two legislative bills to expeditiously dispose of terrorism-related cases and award two-year extension to the military courts.

The opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) – which is a partner in the ruling coalition – opposed both the bills: The Constitution (Twenty-Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2017 and The Pakistan Army (Amendment) Bill, 2017.

The government side is holding meetings with the rest of the parliamentary parties to get both the bills passed unanimously.

The statement of objects of 28th amendment bill says that “due to extraordinary situation constituting grave threat to the security and integrity of Pakistan from various terrorist groups, armed groups, wings and militia or their members, it is proposed to continue special measures for a further period of two years. These measures have yielded positive results in combating terrorism.

“Extraordinary situation and circumstances still exist, which demand continuation of the special measures adopted for expeditious disposal of certain offence[s] relating to terrorism, waging of war or insurrection against Pakistan.

“Terrorist groups including any such terrorists fighting while misusing the name of religion or a sect or by committing grave and violent act of terrorism against the state be tried in these [special military trial] courts.

“The people of Pakistan have expressed their firm resolve through their chosen representatives to permanently wipe out and eradicate terrorists from Pakistan.”

Law Minister Zahid Hamid, while introducing the bill, was of the view that the amendment would yield positive results. Nine meetings have been held and most of the parties endorsed the government’s proposals, he said.

“The country is still going through extraordinary circumstances and facing many challenges. Therefore, it is necessary that these measures continue,” he said.

PPP’s Azra Fazal Pechuho, expressing strong reservations, said that there should be right of appeal for the accused in the bill. “Some of the clauses are discriminatory and should be removed,” she said.

Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM)’s Sheikh Salahudin asked, “For how many more years the government will keep extending time for the military courts?”

JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman strongly opposed the constitutional amendment. “Terrorism should not be linked with religion as terrorists have no religion, sect, or nationality or [are confined to a single] province,” the JUI-F chief said.

Speaker Ayaz Sadiq said that there was a need to create consensus on the legislation.

Later, the house also passed "The Post Office (Amendment) Bill, 2016.”

MINISTRY ASKED TO SORT OUT IDPS ISSUES IN CENSUS

APP adds: Deputy Speaker National Assembly Murtaza Javed Abbasi on Friday directed the Finance Ministry to sort out issue about registration of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the forthcoming census.

He directed parliamentary secretary Rana Muhammad Afzal to sit with Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Shah Jee Gul Afridi and address their concerns.

Earlier, speaking on a point of order JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman said the IDPs could not return to their native areas so far. "It will create a problem, if they (IDPs) are not registered in their ancestral areas in the census," he said.

He said the IDPs should be given the right to register themselves in their native areas.

 

Javaid-ur-Rahman