Tuesday, January 17, 2017

No ministerial briefing yet in Pakistan

We reported the other day that the Pakistani Defence Ministry would brief legislators today, giving a "performance report" on the 21st Amendment military court power to try civilians. Turns out that information was at best premature. According to this Express Tribune article, the briefing may be arranged only if parliamentarians are unable to reach some kind of consensus. (Not sure why the briefing shouldn't be held first, if the purpose is to give legislators a firmer grasp on the issues.) This article, from The Nation, explains the political realities:
The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and Jamaat-e-Islami are firmly opposed to the extension of the authority of the military courts and consistently ran a campaign to the effect. The stand they have taken has not left any room for a compromise.

The government’s dilemma is that it is in no position to amend the Constitution single-handed to give powers to the military courts as it doesn’t have the requisite two-thirds majority in the parliament. Even if it is able to manage such a tally in the National Assembly with tremendous difficulty, it doesn’t have this number in the Senate, controlled by the opposition especially the PPP, which is in no mood to cooperate with the government.

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