November 21, 2023
By Aitzaz Ibrahim
Despite multiple pleas to present a resolution in support of the Supreme Court’s verdict declaring the court martial of civilians null and void, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani on Monday shot down the attempt, stating that the matter was ‘sub-judice’.
In the tumultuous session on November 20, senators from mainstream political parties denounced the hastily-passed resolution supporting trials of civilians in military courts earlier this week. They called on the Senate Chairman to withdraw the November 13 resolution, which was passed in the absence of proper quorum.
An Attack on Democracy
Senator Mushtaq Ahmed of the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) issued a stern condemnation of the November 13 resolution, terming it “an attempt to pressure the judiciary” and “strengthen undemocratic forces” in the country. He requested the podium to present a counter resolution in support of the Supreme Court’s 4-1 majority decision against military trials of civilians, however he was shot down by the Chairman who declared that it was an ongoing legal matter.
“The [November 13] resolution is a drone attack on this house,” he exclaimed while addressing the Senate session. “It is an attack on democracy, human freedom and free media.”
Support in the House
“We totally reject this resolution as it does not reflect the sentiments of the majority of this house,” Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Raza Rabbani Khar coming to Senator Mushtaq’s support. Rabbani also requested the Chairman to allow the JI Senator to table his resolution but was also refused.
Senator Tahir Bizenjo of the National Party said, “According to our opinion, the Supreme Court’s decision is in line with the constitution. The authority, which did not have a large representation in the parliament, should be taken back.”
PTI Senator Syed Ali Zafar stated in the Senate session,
“In my opinion, the upcoming agreement is against the law.”
Standing by the Law
But Senator Manzoor Ahmed of Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), while discussing the agreement in favor of military courts said, “Military courts have been in operation since 1976; these are not new courts.”
Senator Kamran of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) spoke in support of the resolution of Mushtaq Ahmed, saying, “Senator Mushtaq Ahmed’s agreement should be allowed in the house.”
What is the Resolution About?
The November 13 resolution, which was presented by independent senator Dilawar Khan, was supported by Senate members from the Balochistan Awami Party. The resolution endorsed the military trial of civilians after the May 9 incident, and called on the Supreme Court to reconsider its verdict.
Despite objections, the resolution supporting military courts was passed without proper debate, leading to discontent among senators.