Pakistan to try 33 civilians in military courts over violence following ex-PM’s arrest
Islamabad, May 26 (EFE).- The Pakistan military will try 33 civilians, accused of vandalizing and burning military facilities, as per its own laws as part of government action following violent protests triggered by former prime minister Imran Khan’s arrest on May 9.
Out of the 33 suspects, 19 were handed over to military authorities in the Punjab province, while the other 14 were put into military custody in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, interior minister Rana Sanaullah said in a press conference Friday.
The two provinces are the main strongholds of Khan’s party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.
Sanaullah added that a total of 499 cases had been filed against civilians allegedly involved in vandalizing public and military properties on the day of Khan’s arrest.
Out of these, 88 cases have been lodged under the Anti-Terrorism Act, while the rest are based on other charges, such as vandalism, arson or interfering in state matters.
Khan’s arrest triggered a wave of protests across the country as his supporters took to the streets destroying both public and private properties, including the residence of a military commander in the eastern city of Lahore – the capital of Punjab – and a military base in Rawalpindi.
The violent protests demanding the release of the ex-PM left at least 8 dead across the country, while thousands were injured.
A day later, the military top brass dubbed May 9 as a “black day” in the country’s history and said it would try those defying the rule of law using military legislation: the Pakistan Army Act and Official Secrets Act.
Rights groups such as Amnesty International have condemned the use of military laws, insisting that the citizens deserved a just trial based on constitutional law and in accordance with Pakistan’s international human rights commitments.
After the authorities announced that they would try protesters in military courts, Khan in a video message called for dialog between the dissidents, the government and military to try and end the ongoing institutional crisis.
“I appeal that negotiations be held immediately, whatever is being done is not a solution,” said the leader. EFE