Bills proposing amendments to Army Act, Constitution passed in Senate

Bills proposing amendments to Army Act, Constitution passed in Senate

BILLS, PROPOSING, AMENDMENTS, TO, ARMY, ACT, CONSTITUTION, PASSED, IN, SENATE

The bills proposing amendments to the Army Act 1952 and the Constitution were presented in the Senate by Law Minister Zahid Khan, and were later approved following a debate.

The bill, which seeks to “enable trial under the Pakistan Army Act, 1952 for expeditious disposal of cases related to terrorism”, was opposed by Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Senator Ata-ur-Rehman, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) Senator Usman Khakhar, and Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) Senator Jahanzaib Jamal.

Their opposition had little effect on the whole assembly as the bill was supported by the government and the opposition including PPP, thus passing the bill with a two-thirds majority.

Speaking on the Senate floor, MQM senator Barrister Saif insisted that political parties should focus on checking themselves instead of criticising the army.

In the past two years the government had failed to build the judiciary’s capacity and thus the army cannot be blamed, he maintained.

Military courts were disbanded on January 7 after a sunset clause included in the legal provisions under which the tribunals were established, expired.

Till recently, the government and the opposition had struggled to reach a consensus on reviving the courts despite frequent discussions.

The primary concern of critics was the mystery surrounding military court trials: no one knows who the convicts are, what charges have been brought against them, or what the accused’s defence is against the allegations levelled.

Proponents say the courts act as an “effective deterrent” for those considering violent acts.

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