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Multi Party Conference: PPP lays bare policy on military courts, FATA reforms

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Islamabad March 4, 2017: The Pakistan Peoples Party today laid bare its policy on the revival of military courts by declaring opposition to their revival and in case of their inevitability the PPP will formulate legislative proposal to ensure minimum standards of human rights and fair trial of the accused on the one hand and to prevent their misuse for political victimization.

 

To reinforce the message the former President Asif Ali Zardari first stated this before the multi party conference in Zardari House today and later reiterated by PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in his brief encounter with media persons waiting outside the Zardari House.

 

The multi party conference was attended by heads and representatives of 13 political parties including Ch. Shujat Hussain of PML Q, Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman of JUI, Aftab Ahmed Sherpao of QWP, Ghulam Ahmed Bilour ANP, Mr. Siraj-ul-Haq JI, MNA Shah Jee Gull Afridi FATA, Senator Mir Israrullah Zehri BNP (Awami), Sen. Mir Hasil Bizenjo National Party, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed (Awami Muslim League), Sahibzada Hamid Raza (Sunni Ittehad Council), Khurram Nawaz Gandapur (PAT), Syed Shujjat Bukhari (Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Fiqqa Jafria), Allama Raja Nasir Abbas (MWM).

 

Besides Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari the PPP team consisted on opposition leader in National Assembly Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah, Opposition leader in the senate Mr. Aitzaz Ahsan, former Chairman Senate and legal expert Farooq Naek, Senator Sherry Rehman, Secretary General PPP Mr. Nayyar Hussain Bukhari, Senator Sardar Ali Khan, Senator A. Qayyum Soomro, Political secretary Mrs. Rukhsana Bangash and Ms. Fauzia Habib and Secretary General PPPP Senator Farhatullah Babar.

 

The agenda before the multi party conference was to discuss revival of military courts, implementation of the National Action Plan, reform in the tribal areas and the profiling of the Pashtuns in some parts of the country.

 

Upon asking by the political parties Mr. Asif Ali Zardari tasked Senator Farooq Naek to urgently finalize draft legislation for military courts in case their setting up was deemed inevitable by all political parties. He also asked opposition leaders Syed Khursheed Shah and Senator Aitzaz Ahsan to share draft legislative proposal with other political parties.

 

About the FATA reforms Mr. Asif Ali Zardari said that the PPP has spearheaded reforms in tribal areas, opened the door for reforms in FCR that was closed for a century and allowed Political parties to operate freely in the Tribal areas by extending the Political Parties Order 2002 to FATA.

 

Saying that delaying reform implementation for 5 years betrayed government’s insincerity and amounted to hoodwinking the tribal people he demanded immediate implementation of FATA reforms. We are opposed to any delay on any pretext, Zardari said.

 

Mr. Zardari also deplored the non implementation of various provisions of the National Action Plan and called for the accountability of those responsible.

 

Later talking to the media outside Bilawal House Senator Farhatullah Babar elaborating the Party’s reservation about military courts said that merely mentioning terrorist organization or the terrorist group was inadequate, and these terms required to be explained so as to prevent its misuse. He said that for ensuring fair trial as contain in article 10 A of the Constitution it was necessary to allow the accused to engage  defense council of his choice, the right of appeal and the presence of observers in a military court.

 

He said questions have been asked about how jet black terrorist has been defined, how many of 161 accused sentenced to death were jet black terrorist, how many were allowed to engaged a lawyer of choice, how many were denied the charge sheet, copy of the judgment and evidence? He also wanted to know as to how many had been sentenced merely on the basis of ‘confession’ without supporting evidence and what precaution had been taken to ensure that the said confession were not extracted through torture?

 

 He also asked as to how many of the accused sentenced during the last 2 years were those who were brought out into the open under the Action in Aid of Civil Power Regulation 2011? He said that the setting of the military courts will only deflect the attention from the real issues in reforming the criminal justice system and that was one reason why the PPP opposed it.

The very purpose of allowing military courts for only 2 years was to have an opportunity to revisit their working, ask questions and consider how best the shortcomings encountered can be removed, he said.

 

Leaving the term terror organization undefined or too wide open to interpretation can be problematic he said adding also there is no mention if the accused was a member
of a proscribed organization.

 

Later talking to the media outside Bilawal House Sen. Farhatullah Babar elaborating the Party’s reservation about military courts said that merely mentioning terrorist organization or the terrorist group was inadequate, and these terms required to be explained so as to prevent its misuse. He said that for ensuring fair trial as contain in article 10 A of the Constitution it was necessary to allow the accused to engage  defense council of his choice, the right of appeal and the presence of observers in a military court. He said questions have been asked about how jet black terrorist has been defined, how many of 161 accused sentenced to death were jet black terrorist, how many were allowed to engaged a lawyer of choice, how many were denied the charge sheet, copy of the judgement and evidence? He also asked as to how many had been sentenced merely on the basis of confession without supporting evidence and what precaution had been taken to ensure that the said confession were not extracted through torture?

 

 He also asked as to how many of the accused sentenced during the last 2 years were those who were brought out into the open under the Action in Aid of Civil Power Regulation 2011? He said that the setting of the military courts will only deflect the attention from the real issues in reforming the criminal justice system and that was one reason why the PPP opposed it.

 

Elaborating on the party policy on FATA reforms he e said that President as the overlord and law giver in FATA and the FCR are two basic pillars of colonial structure but the reform package failed in demolishing these remnants of colonial structures. The Riwaj Act, replacing the FCR, has not been made public and demanded that it must be brought before the parliament as first step towards enabling the Parliament to legislate for FATA if it is to be
mainstreamed, he said.


With the introduction of Riwaj Act and the ultimate merger of FATA in KPK the province will have three sets of laws; one for the districts, another for PATA and the Riwaj Act for FATA. Multiple laws in multiple areas are never considered a good thing.

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