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Pakistan Military Court Measure Passes Lower House

File photo of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif addressing the parliament.

Pakistan's lower parliament house has approved a constitutional amendment enabling military courts to try civilian terrorism suspects.

The measure, aimed to accerate the trials of alleged terrorists, passed with a 247-0 vote in the 342-seat National Assembly, clearing the two-thirds majority needed to change the constitution.

Members of two religious parties abstained.

The amendment is expected to be approved by the upper house and president this week.

It would be in effect for two years.

Pakistan has taken steps to crack down on militants following a Pakistani Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar that killed 142 children and nine staff on December 16.

Rights activists have criticized the government for lifting the suspension on the death penalty and executing terror convicts.