Senators continue opposing civilians military trials

ISLAMABAD  -  Lawmakers belonging to major political parties in the Senate on Monday called for implementing the Supreme Court decision that declared unconstitutional the trial of civilians by military courts.

After a strong protest of the last two consecutive sittings, Chairman Senate Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani finally allowed the senators to speak on the “controversial resolution,” which supported the military trial of civilians and rejected the apex court decision.

The lawmakers urged the chair to withdraw the resolution immediately and allow them to move another resolution moved by Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Senator Mushtaq Ahmed that hailed the SC decision. On the private members’ day, the chair also permitted two movers of the resolution including Senator Dilawar Khan and Senator Manzoor Ahmed Kakar to respond to the criticism of their follow lawmakers with Khan berating PPP stalwart Mian Raza Rabbani for voting in favour of military courts in the past. Speaking on a point of order, Senator Rabbani said that last week’s resolution of the house in favour of military courts did not reflect the majority of the Senate. “The resolution was brought on the tail-end of the sitting and was not even on the orders of the day,” he said amid thumping of desks by his fellow lawmakers. He added that even the house was not in quorum at that time. He said the decision of SC against the military courts was within the Constitution and the military establishment and the caretakers should have admitted it in letter and spirit. He said that legal ways were present if someone thought that the decision was opposed to the constitution. He added that the resolution had been bulldozed through the Senate and the parliament had been disrespected in this way. “The parliament has been shown as redundant.” Senator Rabbani said that he supported the resolution of Senator Ahmed that rejected the civilians’ trial by military courts. On this, the chairman Senate remarked that the matter was now sub-judice as the federal government and other provincial governments had filed review petitions against the decision of the apex court. But he allowed other lawmakers to speak on the issue following their insistence. JI Senator Mushtaq Ahmed said that “a drone attack” has been carried out on the Senate through this resolution. He appealed to the chair to allow him to move his resolution that endorses the decision of the apex court but got a rebuke from Sanjrani. National Party Senator Tahir Bizinjo argued that civilian courts could try those who were involved in May 9 attacks on military installations and there was no point of concern over the matter. He called for withdrawing the resolution. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Senator Syed Ali Zafar endorsed the SC decision and said that the trial of civilians by military courts violated Article 10 A of the constitution that provided fair trial to each citizen of Pakistan. He said that such a resolution could not be allowed to move in the house as there was the threat of clash of institutions through such actions. Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Senator Kaman Murtaza also said that the resolution had not been introduced in the house by following a due process and added that trial of civilians in special courts was wrong by all means. Senator Dilawar Khan, the mover of the controversial resolution, rejected the criticism of other lawmakers and taunted Senator Rabbani for voting in the past in favour of the constitutional amendment that allowed the trial of alleged terrorists in military courts. He said that anyone should have pointed out a quorum if the house lacked the required majority when the resolution was moved.

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