A special parliamentary working group, compromising representatives of all major political and religious parties, approved the move but it has been opposed by some political groups and human rights organizations.
Jamaat-e-Islami, the country’s largest Islamist party, was the only party that opposed the establishment of an army court, saying it violated the country’s constitution.
“Extraordinary decisions are taken in extraordinary conditions. We fully support the establishment of army courts, and we have lent our full support to the prime minister in this regard,” Mushahid Hussein, leader of a splinter group of the Pakistan Muslim League told reporters in Islamabad after a meeting of parliamentary leaders with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday.
The meeting was called to seek the support of political parties on the issue of military courts and other measures suggested by the special working group.
Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, who staunchly opposes Sharif's government, also lent his support to the idea.
This was the second meeting of all the parliamentary leaders since December 16 - the day the militants killed 145 people, mostly children, in a Peshawar school - to chalk a “unanimous” anti-terrorism policy.
It is believed that the decision comes in light of judges' alleged reluctance to try high-profile militants for fear of retribution from their accomplices.
“Scores of hardcore terrorists have either been released or cases are pending against them for years due to this fear or lacunas in the judicial procedure. This can only be handled by the army courts, as an organized state institution will be at the judges’ back,” a cabinet minister told the Anadolu Agency, on condition of anonymity.
Several lawyers have been killed or injured while fighting cases against high-profile suspects from outlawed militant groups.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said it opposes the establishment of army courts and that they will produce nothing positive.
“We do not approve the establishment of army courts in any case. Army courts do not fulfil the due dispensation of justice to the accused,” said I.A Rehman, the organization's secretary general. “This idea has failed to produce any positive results in the past. Therefore it should not be repeated.”
A military court, according to the military act of Pakistan’s constitution, comprises two army officers and can decide a terrorism-related case in seven days. The army courts’ judgment cannot be challenged in any court of law.
Sharif had previously set up military courts in 1999, during a previous stint as prime minister, but the move was declared by the Supreme Court to be unconstitutional.