LAHORE  -   While the treasury and opposition are regarded as two wheels of the chariot of democracy, hardly ever these wheels in our beloved homeland have had the same wavelength even on important national issues. Each side assumes its role is to oppose the other in all situations.

Some media reports say the government has cancelled a briefing scheduled for Thursday (today) for parliamentary leaders on the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) against terrorism as leaders of major opposition parties have declined to participate due to “political considerations”.

PML-N President and Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif has informed the relevant authorities through a letter, while Asif Zardari and JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman by phone about their “political engagements” because of which they will not be able to turn up.

The issue to be discussed was so important that all invitees should have cancelled all their engagements and presented their respective points of view at the meeting.

It is said that the term of military courts, set up after the 2014 Army Public Schools Peshawar killings, will come to an end by the end of the current month and the government wants to extend the same for another couple of years. And since the decision cannot be taken without a constitutional amendment, for which a two-thirds majority of both houses of parliament is required, the ruling PTI cannot proceed further without opposition’s cooperation.

These courts were last given extension in March 2017 through the Constitution (Twenty-Third Amendment) Act, 2017, and The Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act, 2017.

As the initial two-year term of the military courts had expired on Jan 6, 2017, therefore, in the said two Acts it was provided that these Acts should be deemed to have taken effect on and from Jan 7, 2017.

The military courts were initially set up for trying terrorists linked to militant outfits using the name of religion or sect.

In the first two years the military courts had convicted 274 militants, of which 161 were sentenced to death and 113 others awarded varying imprisonment terms.

According to data recently shared by ISPR, in four years these courts had convicted 617 militants of which 346 were awarded death sentences whereas 271 others were sentenced to different prison terms. A total of 56 condemned prisoners were also executed.

The first extension was given during the previous federal government of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.

Observers say that as a matter of principle, there is no need for military courts in a democratic setup. Military court should be for military men only. All civilian courts should be able to give performance expected from military courts. The ruling PTI and the opposition parties should jointly take measures required for the purpose.

This means powers available to military courts, because of which they take quick decisions, should also be made available to civilian courts. And since the network of civilian courts is there across the country, they should take all situations ‘extraordinary’ and deliver justice. Those afraid of reaction from terrorists as a result of their judgments should better change their profession.

Since judges are supposed to deliver justice even if heavens fall, they should discharge their duties honestly even if the heavens fall on them.

Needless to point out that CJP Asif Saeed Khosa wants quick disposal of all cases, those pending as well as the newly instituted. This target can be achieved only if all civilian courts are as efficient as their military counterparts.

The reservations being expressed by opposition parties about further extension to military courts are understandable.

The government will also be doing a service to itself by not provoking the opposition parties to resort to protests.

The prime minister’s recent offer (reported by a section of the press) that he may provide them a container for protest in the federal capital was not in the government’s interest, especially because the country at present needs peace and stability, not protests.

The opposition should not be provided with any justification to go for protest on any account.