- Defence minister says the courts are present and they have been working for the past 75 years continuously
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif clarified on Sunday that “no new military courts” are being established to try those responsible for the attacks on military installations on May 9.
“No new military courts are being established,” Asif told the media in Sialkot, adding that the law is already present in this regard.
“Courts are present and they have been working for the past 75 years continuously,” he stated.
Explaining that the government was not “snatching anyone’s basic rights”, Asif said cases will be pursued against those whose “footage, faces and identity is present that while attacking military installations”.
Asif termed the May 9 violent incidents on military installations as an “attack on Pakistan’s integrity and existence”.
“I strictly do not differentiate between the attack that happened at the Corps Commander house, Mianwali air base, the GHQ (Pakistan Army’s general headquarters), and the attack by India on this place (Sialkot memorial).”
The government has maintained that it will try in military courts suspects accused of attacking army installations in countrywide protests in the wake of the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan earlier this month.
The defence minister’s statement comes a day after Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Asim Munir said the “legal process of trial against planners, instigators, abettors and perpetrators involved in May 9 tragedy has started under the Pakistan Army Act and Official Secret Act as per existing and established legal procedures derived from the Constitution of Pakistan.”
COAS, who visited Lahore on Saturday, has emphasized that the “army draws its strength from people and any effort to drive 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”.
“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 added.
Some key facts about Pakistan’s military courts
Pakistan’s Army Act of 1952 established military courts primarily to try members of the military or enemies of the state. Civilians can only be tried there under a federal government order.
Civilians accused of offences such as waging war against the armed forces or law enforcement agencies, attacking military installations or inciting mutiny, can be tried at military courts.
Military courts operate under a separate system from the civilian legal system and are run by military officers. The judges are also military personnel and cases are tried at military installations.
Anyone tried under the Army Act has the right to defend themselves and a counsel of their choice.