Defence minister says no ‘new’ military courts being established
ISLAMABAD 21 May (Online): Defence Minister Khawaja Asif on Sunday told journalists in Sialkot that none of those accused of involvement in the May 9 riots will be deprived of their basic rights, stressing that “no new military courts are being established” to try their cases.
Following Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan’s arrest on May 9 in connection with a corruption case, the country saw violent protests targeting sensitive state and military installations.
The government has since pursued an aggressive crackdown against the party leadership and others alleged of being involved in the vandalism and causing public unrest.
The ruling coalition has also said that protestors will be tried under the Army Act at military courts.
While talking to media persons, Khawaja Asif said that “no new military courts are being established. Law is present [for this purpose] already. Courts are present and they have been continuously working for the past 75 years.”
He maintained that the government will not target the innocent and that cases will only be pursued against those identified in video footage of the attacks on the sensitive installations.
Terming the May 9 protests as an attack on the “integrity and existence of Pakistan”, the minister strongly condemned the acts of “terrorism”.
He hailed the security forces of Pakistan, including police and rangers, for their “unrelentless” efforts in countering terrorism.
Urging the nation to stand in unity, he said that people were “well aware” of the forces in play that were trying to polarise the masses and sowing seeds of bitterness.
He also said that the attackers “can never be patriots”, stressing that he saw “no difference between Indian attacks” and the “violent mob’s attack” on Corps Commander House (Jinnah House) and Mianwali Air Base.
“Only an enemy attacks military installations like airbases and GHQ,” he said adding that these had been “among India’s targets”.
He regretted that the angered protestors targeted monuments of the country’s martyrs and war heroes.
“One man gave a clear message that if I don’t have the power, I will attack where the enemy does. [And then] the military installations including martyrs’ memorials were insulted,” he regretted while stressing that “protection of Pakistan is our red line.”
“There will be no compromise on the integrity of Pakistan,” he said.
Earlier, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Syed Asim Munir had said that the legal process of trial against planners, instigators, abettors and perpetrators involved in the May 9 tragedy has commenced under Pakistan Army Act and Official Secret Act as per existing and established legal procedures derived from the Constitution of Pakistan.
“The army draws its 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 chief said while addressing the garrison officers and soldiers at Corps Headquarters during his visit to Lahore on Saturday.