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ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Friday said that 33 suspects nominated in six different cases registered in connection with the May 9 vandalism and attack on sensitive installations after the arrest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan would be possibly tried in the military courts.

“Out of 33 accused, 19 in Punjab and 14 suspects in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa have already been handed over to military courts or military officials,” he said while addressing a press conference here. He said that after the May 9 riots in the country, a total of 499 first information reports (FIRs) have been registered across the country. “Out 499 FIRs, 88 cases were registered under Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) and 411 under other laws,” he said, adding that law enforcement agencies have arrested 5,536 suspects across the country and over 80 percent of them have secured bails.

The minister said that almost 3,900 had been arrested in connection with the cases registered under the ATA, adding that 2,588 of them were in Punjab and almost 1,100 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

He made it clear that only 33 accused could be possibly tried in the military courts and the remaining will be tried by ordinary courts. He denied the rumours that all cases would be tried by military courts and explained that only six of the 499 cases are being processed to be tried in military courts. “It is being said that everything is being taken to military courts. This is not true,” he said.

Sanaullah further said that no innocent would be implicated in cases; however, he said that the law would take its course against those who instigated, planned, and perpetuated the May 9 and 10 violent acts.

About the procedure by which cases were handed over to military authorities, he said that they would determine whether the Pakistan Army Act (PAA) 1952 or Official Secrets Act 1923 had been violated.

Only those found guilty of violating these will be tried under army laws, he said.

The interior minister said that both laws applied when any person trespasses, suggests or provokes another person to trespass a prohibited area — be it a building, area, or an office owned by sensitive agencies responsible for defending the country. “The military laws were applicable on an individual when they trespassed on a building, or a part of a building, related to defence,” he said.

He further said that objection is being raised that the Military Act is being applied to civilians. The military act be applied against those who go to, send, and assist in going to prohibited areas, he said, adding that there is no need for amendment in law as laws are present and there is no need to make military courts.

Sanaullah said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif issued strict directives that those who were found to be innocent would not be punished. He said that the majority of people in PTI or supporters of Imran Khan did not support these activities.

PTI former leader Fayyazul Hassan Chohan has presented a full charge sheet against Imran Khan, he said. When he was asked whether PTI chairman Imran Khan would be tried under the military act or not, he said that according to his personal opinion, Khan is “responsible for this whole chaos and anarchy in the country”. Khan is the “architect and ringleader” of the May 9 vandalism, so his case also falls under the army act.

As per imposing a ban on PTI, he said that the government can only send references against PTI, and a ban can be imposed by the Supreme Court. Concrete evidence to impose is available but the things which create hurdles in the decision to impose a ban on PTI has already been discussed several time, he said, adding that our legal team is working on the matter but so far, the final decision has not been taken in this regard.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023


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