ISLAMABAD — On Monday, senior leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Raza Rabbani declared that a Senate resolution supporting military trials of civilians was contrary to the Constitution and vowed to continue fighting against it.
The Supreme Court’s decision to try civilians in military courts was met with opposition last week when the Upper House of Parliament tabled a motion to delay implementation of the judgement “unless it is considered by a larger bench.”
According to the resolution, people arrested during the May 9 disturbances should be tried by the military.
Mushtaq Ahmed of the Jamaat-e-Islami and Rabbani of the PPP both voted against the proposal to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision.
Speaking on the floor of the parliament today, the PPP leader said he voted bill for setting up military courts in the country in 2015. In order to clarify his stance, Rabbani stated that he was required to uphold party discipline.
He considered his vote in favour of the motion to have been made on behalf of the PPP. He admitted, “I was ashamed for voting the bill,” adding that he still felt guilty about his vote.
The PPP senator wept after voting for the 21st Constitutional Amendment to establish military courts in the Senate in January 2015.
He went on record to say that he voted for the amendment against his better judgement and that he had “never felt more ashamed” than he did that day.
According to those with knowledge of the situation, the bill was not scheduled for debate during the Senate session, and the motion to table it was made when most lawmakers were absent from the chamber.
The legislators protested strongly in the house the day after the bill was passed, claiming that it had been rushed through for political reasons. The Senators asked for prompt withdrawal of the measure.
Senate Deputy Chairman Mirza Muhammad Afridi quickly terminated the meeting due to a lack of quorum, with no business having been conducted.
PTI Senator Ali Zafar called on the Senate to act and condemn any violations of human rights he deemed to be serious. He said it was “unfair” for civilians to be tried in a military court.
The resolution, according to Senator Manzoor Ahmed Kakar of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), was rushed through.
The resolution passed by the Senate has been described as “a drone attack on the House” and a “attack on the democracy” by Senator Mushtaq Ahmad (JI).
The JI senator said that he and Rabbani had been barred from making any remarks about the resolution at that session of the House.
He added that the resolution was not shown to the legislators, including the head of the house and the leader of the opposition. To paraphrase, “It [resolution] will strengthen undemocratic forces.”