The debate over the revival of military courts has finally landed in the National Assembly (NA) - a situation that seemed far from likely a few months ago. A new wave of terrorist attacks later, the issue has come to the forefront of the government’s priorities and in the center of a new legislative push.

However the fact that the bill has been tabled in the NA does not mean that the disagreement over the bill has been fully resolved. The weeks of conferences and frenzied meeting between the opposition and the government have not resulted in any semblance of a consensus. Incremental changes have been made, but there is still a lot of contentious material in there.

Perhaps the most significant of the incremental changes have been the reinsertion of the clause that defines the terrorist to be tried by the military court as those affiliated with a religious or sectarian group, and specifically excludes political party regulated under the Political Parties Order, 2002. This is how we usually understand “terrorist groups” and the inclusion of this amendment makes the military courts easier to swallow – as their jurisdiction is limited. This change is a victory for the Pakistan People’s Party’s (PPP) stance and their commitment to this must be commended.

This victory is far from certain. It is this exact change that the Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s Jamiat UIema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) rejects, as it feels that the provision unfairly targets religious people when in fact “terrorism has no religion”. As untenable as his objections are, they are perfectly in line with the demands of his constituency and it is unlikely that he will back down. It has been his constant objection that has led to the bill being referred to the house law committee for a reevaluation of these clauses.

Other major holdup is the proposed duration of the courts – which is currently down to two years from the original three – which is still being contested. The opposition argument that the current government shouldn’t legislate beyond it’s current tenure is a reasonable one, but with the Pakistan Muslim Leauge-Nawaz (PML-N) already having made so many concessions it is difficult seeing them make a few more – especially since it would halve the originally proposed period to one-and-a-half years.

The battleground has shifted to the NA, but government still faces an uphill task.