Mehmood Khan Achakzai, Chairman Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) and Maulana Fazl ur Rahman, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), have now given new reasons for refusing to support the revival of military courts.
Mehmood Khan Achakzai has put forth five conditions, saying that he will vote for the 23rd Constitutional Amendment Bill, only if these conditions were accepted.
Naeema Kishwar Khan (JUI-F) declared that her party’s final decision to vote or not rests on government’s response to their amendment that is to be presented today (Tuesday).
Revival of military courts is like a “poisonous pill” for Pakistan and not a concession or gift to the country.
– Mehmood Khan Achakzai
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Furthermore, other members of the party delivered their speeches similar to the ones made at the time when the 21st Constitutional Amendment Bill was adopted in 2015. Most of the leaders, thus, said that they were “swallowing a bitter pill” by authorizing the revival of the courts under “unusual circumstances”.
Achakzai: ‘My Vote is Not for Sale’
The major demand highlighted by Mr. Achakzai was that the army should “apologize” for toppling elected governments of Pakistan and imposing martial law in the country time and again. He also demanded an assurance that no such act will be repeated in the days to come.
Mehmood Khan Achakzai pointed out that revival of military courts is like a “poisonous pill” for Pakistan and not a concession or gift to the country. As in 2015, only Supreme Court had the right to appeal whereas, now Supreme Court and High Court both have the rights to appeal.
Further, he added, parliament should pass a resolution in its joint session, which should assert that if the Constitution was abrogated again, the entire country should take to the streets.
The army should apologize for toppling elected governments of Pakistan and imposing martial law in the country time and again.
– Chairman PkMAP
“My vote is not for sale,” Mr. Achakzai said. “Accept these demands and only then will I cast my vote. Otherwise, I will not vote.”
The PkMAP chief criticized the judges who took an oath under Provincial Constitutional Order during General Pervez Musharraf’s era and thus commended the political workers who were imprisoned and tortured under the military rule. In addition, his support of the bill is linked to the issuance of resolutions from the parliament to pay tributes to the judges of the superior courts who refused to approve martial laws and sacrificed their jobs in return.
Mr. Achakzai is of the view that voting for the military courts’ bill would amount to an expression of no-confidence in the country’s judicial system. As in 2015, Supreme Court upheld the legality on military courts. 43 terrorist cases were tried by military courts from a total of 600 cases. Only 12 were sentenced to death, that too, by the military courts. While SC challenged the legality of these courts and halting the executions of 6 terrorists that had been ordered to be executed by MCs.
The chairman, PkMAP, lamented that the country is now on the edge of a “dangerous situation” through “mistakes and shortcomings of all of us”. He insisted that victimizing smaller nations and ethnic groups will then endanger the federation. Mr. Achakzai criticized the Punjab government’s recent actions against Pakhtuns and Afghans, in which raids and arrests were carried out by police and notices were circulated in markets to restrict the entry of Pashtuns and Afghans in shops. He said that Pakhtuns, Sindhis and Baloch were not “conquered people” and all are equal in the eyes of the Constitution of Pakistan.
Support for Military Courts
Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Chairman Awami Muslim League, confronted Mehmood Achakzai. Sheikh Rashid is in support of revival of the military courts with full force, asking the government to fix the country’s judicial system in the next two years. He gave a warning that if the people did not get justice, they might take the matter into their own hands which will become a disastrous situation for Pakistan.
While pounding on PML-N for ignoring parliament, Sheikh Rashid remarked that “the ruling party is not even able to maintain the quorum”. He made a claim that it is the opposition that has been running the house for the past three years.
Pakhtuns, Sindhis and Baloch were not “conquered people” and all are equal in the eyes of the Constitution of Pakistan.
Syed Naveed Qamar, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) parliamentary leader, said, it is unfortunate that they were voting for the “suspension of the fundamental rights of the people” in a democratic era for the second time – previously in 2015.
“This is the indictment of not only the judiciary but also the government and the parliament,” the PPP leader said. He explained his party has been trying to put some check and balance in the original draft to ensure that the law will not be misused for political purposes.
Naeema Kishwar (JUI-F) and Sahibzada Tariqullah (Jamaat-i-Islami) voiced their concerns over the inclusion of “misuse of religion” in the draft and called for its deletion. They said, they would move amendments to the clause concerned on Tuesday.
Sheikh Salahuddin (Muttahida Qaumi Movement) caused a commotion when he drew the attention of the members towards the reports that the PPP and the PML-N had apparently struck a deal.
Ayaz Sadiq, speaker National Assembly, asked him not make the army courts bill controversial. The MQM members responded that there is an assumption in talk shows that PPP has made a deal over the cases against Dr. Asim Hussain and Sharjeel Memon.
Zahid Hamid, Law Minister, assured the opposition members that the resolution, seeking formation of the parliamentary committee on national security, would be presented before the house.
Discussion on the bill will resume today, following which, the voting process will also be held.