Military courts not needed any more, says Senate deputy chairman

KARACHI: As the current two-year term of military courts is set to expire in March, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) sounds firm about opposing the move for their extension as a party member holding key office in parliament said that special judicial arrangements were made as a temporary solution and they were not needed any more.

Deputy Chairman of the Senate Saleem Mandviwalla, while giving reasons for his and his party’s opinion against the military courts, also cited the context and the law and order situation at the time they were proposed and set up, which he believed had changed altogether over the past two years.

“When the military courts were proposed and set up, there was a particular atmosphere and situation which developed consensus and paved the way for their creation,” he said while talking to reporters at the Karachi Press Club.

Mandviwalla says security situation in country has changed altogether over the past two years

“The situation has completely changed over past two years. I don’t think they are needed any more. The judiciary a couple of years ago was under threat that also allowed the military courts to bridge the gap. In the current situation, we don’t need military courts.”

Earlier this month, the law ministry informed a National Assembly’s standing committee that the summary for a second extension in the military courts had been forwarded to the federal cabinet for approval.

Mr Mandviwalla’s thoughts came hardly a month after his party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari unequivocally said that his party would not support another extension to the military courts, whose current two-year term is set to expire in March.

Answering a question about his party’s intention to remove Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani from office, he didn’t go into detail and share anything with clarity and only referred to “democratic process” for any move or change.

“We have always opposed dictatorial and undemocratic moves for any change or initiative,” he said. “We would welcome any move and would like to be a part of that if it meets all democratic norms and parliamentary values. Anything beyond this simple policy is not acceptable to us, neither we are planning anything like that.”

Mr Mandviwalla had last week confirmed reports that efforts were under way to remove Mr Sanjrani from office in a move that may further deepen the political crisis surrounding parliament amid a widening gap between the ruling and opposition parties.

The Senate deputy chairman congratulated the newly elected body of the Karachi Press Club and assured support of his party against unannounced censorship and layoffs of media members from their organisations.

“Our authorities and the institutions must realise that they can’t fight the fifth generation war without a free and vibrant media,” he said. “The PPP has the history of always encouraging the freedom of the press and supporting the journalists fraternity for their role and services to democracy.”