Brushing aside the concerns of human rights groups, Pakistan Army chief General Asim Munir has said that authorities have initiated a “legal process of trial” under stringent military laws against those involved in recent attacks on military installations following the arrest of former prime minister Imran Khan.
Gen Munir made the disclosure on Saturday during his visit to the Punjab province capital Lahore, the worst hit city by the violent protests.
According to a late-night statement by the Army, Gen Munir chief addressed the garrison officers and soldiers at the Corps Headquarters.
He said that the “legal process of trial against planners, instigators, abettors and perpetrators involved in the May 9 tragedy has commenced under the Pakistan Army Act and the Official Secret Act as per existing and established legal procedures derived from the Constitution of Pakistan”.
On May 9, violent protests erupted after the arrest of Khan by paramilitary Rangers from the premises of the Islamabad High Court. His party workers vandalised a dozen military installations, including the Jinnah House (Lahore Corps Commander house), Mianwali airbase and the ISI building in Faisalabad. The Army headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi was also attacked by the mob for the first time.
Police put the death count in violent clashes to 10 while Khan’s party claims 40 of its workers lost their lives in the firing by security personnel.
Thousands of Khan’s supporters were arrested following the violence that the powerful Army described as a “dark day” in the history of the country.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said on Sunday that no new military courts were being established for trial of attackers on military installations.
Addressing the media in his home town of Sialkot, Asif said that such courts had been functional for the last 75 years.
“No new military courts are being established. Law is already present at this time. Courts are present and they have been working for the past 75 years continuously,” he said.
He also rejected the impression that the government was trying to snatch away the basic rights of people and said that cases would be pursued against individuals whose “footage, faces and identity is present that they are attacking military installations”.
The minister also said that those convicted by the military courts would have the right to challenge the verdict in the high courts and then in the Supreme Court.
“I strictly do not differentiate between the attack that happened at the Corps Commander house, Mianwali air base, the GHQ (general headquarters), and the attack by India on this place (Sialkot memorial),” he said, pointing to the memorial.
Asif addressed the media after leading a rally in support of the country’s armed forces.
On Sunday, General Munir also visited Jinnah House and other army installations blatantly attacked and vandalised by politically motivated rioters. He was also briefed on the events of May 9.
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) emphasised that the armed forces draw strength from people and any effort to create a wedge between the Army and the people of Pakistan is an act against the state which is “neither tolerable nor condonable under any circumstances”, the army statement said.
“Hostile and inimical forces and their abettors have been trying hard to create confusion through fake news and propaganda but all such designs of the enemy will be defeated with the support of the nation,” he said.
General Munir also visited Qurban Lines and met with police officials and appreciated the professionalism and restraint exercised by them during the riots and vandalism, He assured the Army’s full support to the law enforcement agencies for their capacity enhancement, intelligence sharing and training.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)