ISLAMABAD - On the direction of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif the leadership of mainstream political parties will be taken into confidence today on the draft proposal for constitutional amendments and changes in the legal framework for establishment of special trial courts.
The first draft of the proposed amendments in the constitution to pave the way for establishment of these courts, which would be manned by the Armed Forces personnel, was presented to prime minister in a meeting on Saturday, and he asked his team to first have the input of the leadership of other political parties on it and bring it for final discussion after getting affirmative nod from them.
Sources informed that in the all parties conference (APC) held last week it was decided to constitute an experts committee to work out the modalities for giving legal and constitutional cover to the special trial courts.
The eight-member committee comprising Ch Aitzaz Ahsan, Afrasiab Khattak, Barrister Faroogh Nasim, Mushahid Hussain Syed, Hamid Khan, Attorney General of Pakistan Salman Butt, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Barrister Zafarullah and Kh Zaheer completed the spade work and a draft of proposed amendments in the constitution and changes in the relevant laws was prepared.
Sources in the government said that in the proposed draft suggested amending Article 212 of the constitution for establishing these special trial courts to deal with the cases relating to hardcore terrorists. They said that under the legal changes some of the fundamental rights of the people would also be suspended for the period these special courts would operate.
Sources said that after getting input from the political parties and their approval the draft would be tabled before the parliament for formal legislation in the upcoming session starting in the first week of January. But if the leadership of these political parties would suggest some changes the draft, it would be sent back to the technical committee for review and it would be amended to their satisfaction.
Sources in the government said that there was also a proposal that a high-powered committee be constituted, most likely under the head of prime minister, to have a supervisory role on the working of these special trial courts, so that these courts could not overstep from their mandated role.
Sources said that government would also ask the provinces for sending requisition for deployment of Army for handling the internal security in extraordinary circumstances by invoking Article 245. So far only federal and Punjab governments had invoked Article 245 and called in troops in aid to civil administration to tackle the maintenance of law and order situation while in rest of the country, the Army was assisting civilian authorities in maintaining security without legal cover.
The invoking of Article 245 would provide constitutional cover to the actions of the Armed Forces personnel in the civil areas because the powers of high courts under Article 199 to bring in question the acts of Army would automatically got seized. Sources said that federal government would ask the governments of Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to invoke Article 245 to provide legal and constitutional cover to the presence of Armed Forces personnel in the urban centers.
Sources said that Army leadership during their meeting with the prime minister after the Peshawar school carnage had taken up this issue and said that if Army would not be provided with proper legal cover, he would be left with no choice but to call back the deployed troops in these provinces.