ISLAMABAD - The main opposition party (PML-N) has made it clear that it will not blindly support any piece of legislation aimed at extending military courts for another term of two years.

“We will take any decision to support PTI government on this issue or otherwise after vetting the justifications for the extension of military courts,” PML-N’s Ahsan Iqbal said in an exclusive talk with The Nation. The government may soon approach opposition parties for convincing them to support the extension of military courts for another term of two years. The purpose of compelling main opposition parties is to smoothly pass the constitutional amendment from the parliament.

The military courts were established in January 2015 to try civilians involved in terrorist activities in military courts.

These military courts were established through the 21st Constitutional Amendment in the first week of January 2015 for a period of two years for once, bringing amendments in certain clauses of the Constitution and Pakistan Army Act 1952.

PML-N senior lawmaker Ahsan Iqbal said that the government side had far not made any contact with his party over this matter. “It can only be passed unanimously after evolving consensus but we (PML-N) have not been contacted,” said the former minister.

As the 7th national assembly session has been summoned to meet on Monday (January 14). The government side may try to pass this amendment in the upcoming National Assembly session, which may continue for two weeks.

Parliamentary experts viewed that it would be difficult for PTI’s government to get the constitutional amendment passed from the parliament without taking support of both the main opposition parties (PML-N and PPP-P).

When contacted, former deputy speaker national assembly Murtaza Javed Abbasi said that the opposition would carefully go through the draft before taking any decision. “The government should better thoroughly brief the house (parliament),” said Abbasi this while talking to The Nation.

The opposition side, in the PML-N era, had strongly criticised the then government for its failure to take requisite measures to strengthen the anti-terrorist courts to deal with such cases.

The opposition, PML-N MNA said, would also see the tenure for extending the military courts before taking any decision on this constitutional amendment.

The second largest opposition party (PPP-P) has so far indicated not to support another extension to the military courts. When contacted, Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, Spokesperson for PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that PPP would not support any legislation for extension of military courts for another two years.

The ISPR through a statement had also informed that the federal government had referred 717 cases to military courts.  About 546 out of these 717 cases had been finalised by the military courts. Out of these 546 finalised cases, 310 terrorists had been awarded death penalty while 234 were awarded rigorous imprisonment of varied durations ranging from life imprisonment to 5-year imprisonment. Two accused had also been acquitted. Execution of the remaining 254 terrorists is pending completion of legal process in higher courts.

The upcoming National Assembly session has also heavy agenda to discuss in two weeks including discussion on mini-budget (Economic plan for another three years by PTI government), power outages in winter.