With the government’s legislative agenda failing to make an appearance on the parliament floor, the ever-present question of an extension to military courts is back in discussion. According to the Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry the government is discussing with the opposition “issues pertaining to grant of extension to military courts and implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) with special reference to the measures being taken against banned groups.”

It is certainly appreciated that the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) has come under scrutiny once more after fading from the public’s attention over the years, it being clubbed together with the contentious issue of military courts presents a problem.

It seems that once more the government has foregone any discussion on finding a permanent solution to the judiciary’s troubles when it comes to trying cases of terrorism in favour of prolonging what was at best an ad-hoc solution. Despite the newly appointed Chief Justice calling attention to the matter and inviting the government to formulate a cross institutional dialogue to work through the challenges the government is taking the easy way out.

What is lamentable is not the fact that an extension to the military courts is being sought – after all they were effective and they might actually be the need of the hour once again – but rather the fact that the government didn’t even attempt to engage the opposition, the stakeholders and the judiciary on the matter. Coming to the conclusion that the courts are a necessity after an extended and informed debate is a different matter from automatically reverting to the courts as a failsafe.

The government needs to realise that perpetually extending the jurisdiction of the courts is unsustainable – a national discussion is needed; sooner rather than later.