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Wednesday May 22, 2024

Senate resolution on military trial of civilians 'unconstitutional': Rabbani

PTI Senator Ali Zafar urges Senate to take action and condemn if basic human rights are being violated

By Nausheen Yusuf
November 20, 2023
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Raza Rabbani addresses a joint sitting of the Parliament. — APP/File
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Raza Rabbani addresses a joint sitting of the Parliament. — APP/File  

ISLAMABAD: Peoples Party (PPP) senior leader Raza Rabbani on Monday termed the Senate resolution backing military trials of civilians against the Constitution and vowed to continue opposing it.

Last week, the Upper House of Parliament passed a motion against the Supreme Court’s verdict on civilians’ trial in the military courts, calling for halting implementation of the judgment “unless it is considered by a larger bench”. The resolution backs the military trial of civilians arrested in connection with the May 9 riots.

Two senators — Jamaat-e-Islami’s Mushtaq Ahmed and PPP's Rabbani — opposed the resolution against the top court’s verdict.

Speaking on the floor of the house today, the PPP leader said he voted bill for setting up military courts in the country in 2015. Clarifying his position, Rabbani said he was bound to the party discipline.

He was of the view that the vote he had cast in support of the motion was on the PPP's behalf. “I was ashamed for voting the bill,” he said, adding that he, even today, was ashamed for it.

In January 2015, the PPP senator was in tears after voting in the Senate on the 21st Constitutional Amendment for setting up military courts.

Expressing his emotions, Rabbani said had “never felt more ashamed” in his life as he was on that day and admitted that he voted on the amendment against his conscience.

Sources privy to the matter revealed that the bill was not part of the agenda of the Senate session and the motion was tabled in the house when a majority of the lawmakers were absent.

The day after the passage of the bill, the lawmakers lodged a strong protest in the house against the hasty approval of the resolution. The Senators called for immediate withdrawal of the resolution.

Without taking up any agenda item, Senate Deputy Chairman Mirza Muhammad Afridi adjourned the proceedings within minutes due to lack of quorum.

On his part, PTI Senator Ali Zafar urged the Senate to take action and condemn if basic human rights were being violated.

He termed the military trial of civilians “unfair”.

Expressing his views, Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) Senator Manzoor Ahmed Kakar said that the resolution was passed in haste.

JI Senator Mushtaq Ahmad termed the Senate resolution as “a drone attack on the House” and an “attack on the democracy”.

The JI senator said that he and Rabbani were not allowed to speak on the resolution on that day in the House.

The leader of the house and the opposition leader were kept in the dark about the resolution, he said, adding that the motion was not shown to the lawmakers. “It [resolution] will strengthen undemocratic forces.”