ISLAMABAD - The parliamentary parties’ leaders would once again gather today (Monday) to examine the nine proposals of Pakistan People’s Party for granting extension to military courts.

Sources in the government informed The Nation that government was hectically engaged in backchannel consultation with the parties still showing reservations over granting of extension to military courts for another stint.

Last week, Federal Law Minister Zahid Hamid had tabled the constitutional amendment bill in the National Assembly for granting extension to the military courts.

He clarified the government’s position that as some parties had still reservations over the issue the tabled bill could be amended before putting to vote after another round of consultation with the stakeholders.

The tabled bill was actually the repetition of the 21st Constitutional Amendment which had paved the way for establishment of the military courts in the country in the first week of January 2015, a parliamentarian belonging to ruling PML-N said.

The parliamentarian said that the consensus bill would definitely see some changes as proposed by the PPP as well as it would address the concerns of the JUI-F Chief, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who had abstained the voting on the 21st Constitutional Amendment.

Sources in the ruling PML-N was engaged in negotiation with the main opposition party and earlier the PPP had agreed to accept the extension for two years time with some strict monitoring control over these courts but at the eleventh hour in the last meeting under the chair of the speaker National Assembly they had backed out and insisted that the term of these courts should be extended for one year instead of two.

Sources in the PPP said that they would stick to their proposals for the extension of military courts when they would join the leaders of other parliamentary parties on Monday under the head of speaker National Assembly.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar said on Sunday that the government had tabled in National Assembly on Friday last the bills for Constitutional and Army Act amendments relating to the subject of military courts.

The minister said that the drafts of the said bills were agreed upon on February 28 in a meeting chaired by speaker National Assembly and attended by the parliamentary leaders of all the parties in the Senate and the National Assembly.

However, some amendments to the proposed bills have subsequently been suggested by Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and some other parties.

In order to discuss these proposals and to develop consensus of all the political parties on the subject of military courts, the speaker has convened, on the request of the government, a meeting of all the parliamentary parties’ leaders in the Senate and the National Assembly on Monday.

The finance minister said that under the current circumstances the nation was looking for a united, coherent and resolute response by the political parties to effectively tackle the menace of terrorism.

He said that in the last few years, the political parties had developed a culture of “consensus through dialogue” on issues of national importance.

All the political parties have demonstrated that they can rise above party politics for a national cause, the finance minister said. 

 He hoped that in the meeting on 13th March political parties would once again demonstrate unity and resolve to effectively deal with the challenge of terrorism.

The PPP floated nine proposals that included; military courts shall be presided over by one sessions judge or additional sessions judge with a military officer; the sessions/additional sessions judge be nominated by the chief justice of Pakistan; period will be for one year from starting date; right of judicial review by high courts under Article 199 of the Constitution; high court shall decide case within 60 days; accused to be produced within 24 hours before the concerned court; accused to be supplied with grounds of arrest within 24 hours; accused shall have right to engage counsel of his choice, and provisions of Qanoon-i-Shahadat 1984 shall apply.