Page last updated at 14:16 GMT, Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Pakistan drops mobile courts plan

Protesters in Multan
Opposition parties said that the courts would have targeted their activists

Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari has dropped plans to establish mobile courts that can adjudicate on minor offences on the spot, officials say.

He made the decision after Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani advised him that the courts would be "unworkable".

The purpose of the courts was to deliver quick justice "at the doorstep" in remote areas, officials said.

But opposition parties protested that the courts would have been used to target their activists.

They staged several protests over the last few weeks against the plans.

The idea behind the courts was for them to provide speedy justice to people at their doorstep in rural areas where no judicial set-up existed.

Provincial governments would have been authorised to "appoint as many persons as they thought fit" to act as magistrates to head them.

The BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad says that the decision to drop the idea was taken principally because of sustained political pressure against it at a time of increased tension between the government and opposition.

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