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The National Security Committee led by prime minister Shehbaz Sharif has allowed armed forces to conduct the trial of the miscreants found involved in attacking and desecrating military installations under the Army Act.

In my view, the decision taken by the apex security body of the country, which also comprises, among others, the chiefs of armed forces, is too harsh, given the fact that the incumbent government is overtly inimical to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and its leader Imran Khan. The relationship between the Sharifs and the Khan brings to mind Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s approach to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

We all know how Bhutto’s “Udhar tum idhar hamm” slogan played a key role in the dismemberment of Pakistan in 1971. There’s no denying that the protesters, mainly PTI supporters, had gone too far on May 9; and they must be brought to justice.

But it is also a fact that the absence of any action on the part of armed forces’ personnel deployed at Jinnah House residence of Lahore Corps Commander, GHQ in Rawalpindi and PAF base in Mianwali encouraged the protesters to show totally unwarranted belligerence and aggression in order to vent their anger against the arrest of their leader by the personnel of a paramilitary force, Rangers. We must not lose sight of the fact that PTI is country’s largest political party. In other words, it’s “Awami League” of present-day Pakistan.

Hence the need for revisiting the decision of invoking or employing Army Act to try political workers. All the laws except the Army Act on the statutes can be invoked against the suspects. Army must not be allowed to land itself in the muddied waters of politics through the use of the Army Act.

Jalaal Aal-e-Ahmad (Karachi)

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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