Our decision on military courts will come after legal consultation, says Bilawal

After the PPP’s ‘all-parties’ conference failed to arrive at a consensus on military courts, party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Saturday said his party will decide its stance on the issue after consultation with its legal team.

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) were not in attendance at the multiparty conference, while the ruling PML-N was not invited.

Shaikh Rasheed Ahmed of the Awami Muslim League (AML), Aftab Ahmed Sherpao of the Qaumi Watan Party (QWP), Maulana Fazlur Rehman of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), and other heads of political parties attended the meeting.

Bilawal Bhutto, while talking to media after the conference was over, said that apart from military courts, integration of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) were also discussed in the meeting.

However, Bilawal said not consensus was reached on the extension to be granted to military courts, and that a final decision will be taken after consultation with legal experts.

He did not specify a timeframe in which the parties may come to a joint conclusion.

According to DawnNews, Asif Ali Zardari, the co-chairman of PPP, said that the purpose of calling the conference was to develop a consensus on the matter.

He said that he wanted a collective decision from the parties in attendance when the issue was brought to the floor in Parliament.

“If any party has a different stance, they can decide on their next move too,” he said.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman insisted that a clear definition of the word ‘terrorism’ should be given before a decision can be made on the military courts.

Addressing the conference, he emphasised that instead of targeting one religion or sect, every armed group should be dealt with accordingly and that anyone who picks up arms against the state should be termed a terrorist.

Talking about the integration of Fata into KP, he said that it was necessary to ask the people of Fata about their wishes and asked the government to not impose any decision on them.

Military courts had been disbanded this year on Jan 7. No consensus was reached between the government and the opposition on an extension in their tenure despite frequent meetings on the issue.

On Feb 28, however, the majority of the political parties in power consented to an extension for another two years.

The PPP had not attended the meeting in which the decision was taken.

Via Dawn.