Pak cabinet endorses top security body’s decision to try perpetrators of May 9 violence in military courts

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani cabinet approved decision of country’s highest security body to have military courts try those involved in attacks on army installations.
Protesters took to the streets on May 9 after the arrest of former Prime Minister and chairman of Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, Imran Khan, and set fire to military and civilian buildings and vehicles.
The violence left 10 people dead and thousands injured.
Thousands of supporters of Khan, 70, have been arrested in the violence that The Pakistani army described as a “dark day” in the history of the Islamic country.
The National Security Committee (NSC) at a meeting on Wednesday agreed that protesters who ransacked and vandalized military installations would be tried under the Army Act and the Official Secrets Act.
The Express Tribune newspaper reported on Saturday that the cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif at the Prime Minister’s House (PMO), gave its approval to try civilians in military courts just days after the NSC and the Corps Commanders Conference have pledged to bring those behind the violent protests to justice.
On May 9, widespread protests erupted after paramilitary Rangers arrested cricketer-turned-politician Khan at the premises of the Islamabad High Court (IHC). Khan has a massive following across Pakistan.
The protesters vandalized public and state property and even attacked the headquarters in Rawalpindi and the residence of the corps commander in Lahore.
The violence was followed by a crackdown on PTI leaders and workers.
A cabinet minister, while requesting anonymity, told the Express Tribune that no new military tribunals would be established, saying the defendants would be tried by the ‘special permanent tribunals’ which already operate under the law. military.
However, Colonel (retired) Inamur Rahiem, a renowned lawyer and expert in military-related matters, said that the Ministry of Defense or the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) will have to issue a formal notification to establish or reactivate special permanent tribunals.
“The federal government has already empowered the army chief to constitute or even issue a warrant to any formation commander to constitute special standing tribunals,” Rahiem said, adding that the military generally establishes tribunals in units. concerned for any crime committed in that particular unit.
Once special permanent courts are established, he said, they can operate year-round in one city or in different cities.
Earlier, he recalled that the Special Permanent Courts were set up in Malir area of ​​Karachi in 2005-2006 due to the law and order situation in the restive city.
However, he added, they ceased to function when the Supreme Court (SC) later ruled in the Shiekh Liaquat case that there was no need for military courts as a court system was already functioning in the country.
Nevertheless, he recalled, high courts had subsequently upheld 98% of convictions in military tribunal cases when the decisions were challenged.
“The Federal Cabinet approved the decisions made at the National Security Committee meeting held on May 16,” the official statement read.
In addition to endorsing trials in military courts, the NSC stressed the need for political dialogue rather than confrontation to resolve differences.
Earlier, at the Corps Commanders’ Conference, General Asim Munir of COAS decided that the perpetrators, planners and executors of such attacks would be tried under secret army and official laws.
On Friday, the federal cabinet ratified the NSC decisions, according to the Express Tribune. PTI SH PY AKJ


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