ISLAMABAD (AFP) – Pakistan’s lower house of parliament Tuesday approved the establishment of military courts to hear terrorism-related cases, after a Taleban massacre at a military-run school in the northwest shocked the nation.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had announced the plan after militants gunned down 134 children and 16 adults at the Peshawar school last month.
He also ended a six-year moratorium on the death penalty in terror cases, and several people have since gone to the gallows.
Members of the main opposition joined the ruling party Tuesday to pass the measure, which now goes to the upper house.
“The bitter pill of this new law is being swallowed for the security of Pakistan,” said Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah, opposition leader in the lower house.
The measure was approved after 247 legislators – more than a two-thirds majority – voted to amend the constitution to allow for military courts to be set up.
Members of the Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazal group) abstained.
“We were not taken into confidence when the amendments were being made,” JUI (F) chief Fazalur Rehman told reporters at parliament.
“The story of 9/11 is being repeated here,” he said, referring to September 11, 2011 attacks on the United States.
“After 9/11 Muslims were being targeted and the same thing is being done in the name of constitutional amendment.
“Some forces are trying to initiate a war between religious and secular forces in the country,” he said.
Members of the party of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan were not present as their resignations are pending with the speaker. He alleges that last year’s general election which brought Sharif back to power was rigged.
Apart from the religious parties, some moderate political parties and members of the intelligentsia have criticised the military courts plan.