ISLAMABAD  -   Keeping in view the sensitivity of the issue, Prime Minister Imran Khan has tasked his trusted partymen and seasoned politicians - Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Pervaiz Khattak - to win the support of Opposition parties to get another extension to military courts.

The two-year term of military courts, second in row, had just expired on January 6 and as these courts had come into existence under a ‘sunset clause’ it would automatically cease to exist on expiry of its term.

Sources aware of the developments taking place on this front informed The Nation that Prime Minister Imran Khan after consultations with party leaders decided to assign the task to Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, both known for their political acumen and patience, to approach the Opposition parties and convince them on the necessity of these courts for some more time to fully eliminate the menace of terrorism.

The sources informed that most likely both these leaders would contact the Opposition parties’ leadership in a next couple of days most likely on the sidelines of the upcoming National Assembly session starting from January 14 and try to win their support for getting another extension from the Parliament.

The extension of military courts would be requiring a constitutional amendment for which the ruling PTI and its allies would be requiring the support of both PPP and PML-N as without the active participation of both these parties the government could not get a two-third majority in both the houses of the Parliament requisite for a constitutional amendment.

Sources further informed that PTI leadership was confident to woo both PPP and PML-N as both these parties would support it as a national cause to bring an end to menace of terrorism in the country.

“The ground for having military courts are very much there as neither PML-N nor PPP in their terms in office had taken measures to strengthen the anti-terrorist courts in the country as required under the National Action Plan which had provided basis of dealing with these militants out of the box,” a legal expert commented on the situation.

The Army Public School Peshawar’s tragedy where terrorists had brutally killed students and teachers on December 16, 2014 provided the ground for the establishment of military courts to try the terrorists acquiring the shape of monstrous in the country.

Trying the civilians involved in terrorist activities in military courts was one of the cornerstones of the 20-point National Action Plan the political leadership of the country had evolved with consensus.

The 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.

Though openly no political party was supporting extension in military courts, the saner elements in PML-N are having a soft view on it and they considered that till the measures to strengthen the civilian courts in the light of the recommendations of National Action Plan are put in place the military courts would be inevitable to deal with the extraordinary situation the country is facing while on the other hand, PPP had taken a very tough position on it and would averse to grant of another extension to military courts at any cost.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had made it loud and clear that granting extension to military courts through Parliament would be like chopping off its (Parliament) nose.

Sources in the government said that parallel to the political parleys to be initiated by PTI central leaders with mainstream opposition parties, the government was working on plan ‘B’ as well wherein Law Ministry was working on a plan to grant extension to military courts through an ordinance. This would give a breathing space to the government to convince the opposition parties to their point.