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Senators Protest Resolution against SC Military Trials Ruling

Lawmakers note resolution was passed when Upper House lacked quorum, adding it should be withdrawn

by Staff Report

File photo of Pakistan Senate

Senators of various political parties on Tuesday protested against the Upper House’s adoption of a resolution supporting trials of civilian in military courts, noting it was passed when only 12 members were in attendance and should be withdrawn.

Taking the floor as the sitting commenced, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) Senator Sadia Abbasi condemned the passage of the resolution, adding it had not been placed on the day’s agenda and was passed in haste. Noting it was passed when only 12 senators were present in the house, she said lawmakers could not endorse it.

“Come what may, we cannot allow military courts, and neither are we supporting them,” she said, referring to the resolution passed a day earlier. “Whatever the Supreme Court has done, it has done in the larger interest of the people,” she said of the Supreme Court ruling declaring as “unconstitutional” the military trials of civilians, including those detained for their alleged role in the May 9 riots.

Tabled by independent senator Dilawar Khan, the resolution was supported solely by senators of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP). It had described the apex court ruling as “an attempt to rewrite the law” and urged the Supreme Court to “reconsider” it. It had also alleged that the ruling would facilitate “abettors of terrorism and anti-state activities.” Curiously, three senators of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf—whose workers are facing military trials for their alleged role in attacks on military assets on May 9—neither chose to endorse or oppose the resolution despite being present in the House.

Only two senators—PPP’s Raza Rabbani and JI’s Mushtaq Ahmed—had protested against the hasty passage of the resolution.

Maintaining that the majority of senators did not agree with the resolution, Abbasi questioned whether the Senate could similarly adopt a resolution calling for imposition of martial law in the country. “Withdraw this resolution, as it doesn’t reflect the aspirations of the members,” she said, adding the haste shown in its adoption violated democratic norms and parliamentary traditions. Rabbani, Ahmed and Tahir Bizenjo of the National Party supported further debate on the resolution, but were denied the chance to do so by Deputy Chairman Mirza Muhammad Afridi.

The session was subsequently adjourned until Friday after a PTI senator pointed out lack of quorum.

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