Pakistani parliament approves constitutional amendment to toughen anti-terror laws

Source:Xinhua Published: 2015-1-6 19:15:32

Pakistani parliament on Tuesday adopted a constitutional amendment that toughens the anti-terror laws, including establishment of military-led special courts for the hearing of terrorism-related cases.

The military courts will put on trial members of "any terrorists groups or organizations using the name of religion or sect and raised arms or wages war against Pakistan or attacks armed forces of Pakistan and law enforcement agencies, or attacks any civilian or military organization in Pakistan."

The National Assembly or Lower House of the parliament required a two-third majority for the approval of the amendment. A total of 247 members in the house of 342 voted in favor of the amendment and none present in the house opposed.

Members of two major Islamic parties -- Jamiat ulema-e-Islam and Jamaat-e-Islami abstained from the voting on the 21st Constitutional Amendment. Lawmakers belonging to a main opposition Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf also did not attend the session because of its anti-government protest.

The house rejected amendments proposed by Jamaat-e-Islami in the legislation, which wanted removal of the words "religion and sect" from the draft. Jamiat ulema-e-Islam, which is also an ally of the ruling coalition, complained that it was not taken into confidence before the legislation.

The government opted for the constitutional amendments after the Taliban massacred 140 school children and 10 of their teachers in a brutal attack on an army-run school in Peshawar city on Dec. 16.

The new laws say those will also face military trial who kidnap any person for ransom, store or carry explosives, fire, arms, instruments, articles, suicide jackets or vehicles designed to be used for terrorist acts.

A person who receives or provides funding from any foreign or local sources for such illegal activities and acts or does any act to over-awe the state or any section of the public or sect or a religious minority or to create terror or insecurity in Pakistan will be punished under this act, according to the draft.

The bills provide that any person who is alleged to have abetted, added or conspired in the commotion of any offense falling under this law, shall be tried under this act.

No person accused of any offense shall be prosecuted without the prior sanction of the federal government, the bills say. Any political party registered under the law of the country will not come under the new law.

The federal government shall have the power to transfer any proceedings in respect of any person who is accused any of these offenses, the laws say.

The bills say that the extraordinary situation and circumstances demands special measures for speedy trail of certain offenses related to terrorism, waging war, or insurrection against Pakistan and prevention of acts threatening the society of Pakistan by any terrorists group using the name of religion, or a sect and members of such armed group, wings and militias.

The laws says Pakistan faces grave and unprecedented threats to its integrity because of armed and insurgent groups who are using the name of religion or sect by groups of foreign or local funded elements including warriors using the name of religion or a sect.

Those who are to be captured in combat with armed forces and other law enforcement agencies are to be tried in the special court.

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