ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Monday passed a resolution demanding the trial of May 9 rioters which also include women – if found involved in attacks on military and state installations under the Pakistan Army Act, 1952. The resolution, a copy of which is available with Business Recorder, was moved by none other than Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, who had a track record of resisting such moves whenever his party governments faced ousters, especially by military dictators in the past.

But Asif, who used to be a staunch critic of military courts, left many stunned by moving the resolution which called for an immediate trial of those involved in the May 09 vandalism under the military law.

The resolution passed in the house said that a political party and its chairman” broke the law and the constitution on May 9 and orchestrated attacks on military installations.

“The actions of this party and its chief caused damage, which cannot be compensated, to the state institutions and its evidence is present. Therefore, actions must be taken against them according to the law and Constitution without even a day’s delay,” it read.

The resolution alleged that the “burden of these anti-state actions” conducted by the party was not being taken by its own members and they were distancing themselves from it.

“This proves that the agenda of this party and its chairman is against the state,” it added.

It further read that “no human rights were violated in the inquiry against the rioters,” adding that “a political party was spreading propaganda and levelling fake accusation in this regard”.

“Across the world, the right of inquiry against people involved in incidents such as attacks on military installations lie with the army. In Pakistan too, laws and constitutional protection against such elements exist,” it added.

“Therefore, an inquiry should be initiated without any delay against all the people involved in these incidents and they should be punished under the Pakistan Army Act, 1952,” the resolution added.

However, Maulana Abdul Akber Chitrali of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) was the lone lawmaker who opposed the resolution, saying no civilian should be tried under the military act.

He said that cases against the elements involved in May 09 riots should be tried in anti-terrorism and civil courts instead of military courts. “No one even the prime minister and the army chief is above the law and constitution; they should be punished according to the law of the land,” he maintained.

He declared that his party is against the trial of civilians under draconian military laws and will resist any such move and this is the reason his party is opposing the resolution in question.

Speaking on the occasion, the defence minister said that the government has not enacted any new legislation vis-à-vis the May 9 violent acts. He said our armed forces are waging a war for the defence of the country and their personnel continue to render their lives for the security of the country.

He said the attacks on the military installations were planned and amount to disregarding the blood of martyrs which cannot be tolerated under any circumstances. He said the PTI is attacking the integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan.

While opening the debate on Finance Bill, 2023-24, Raja Riaz in his 25-minute long speech – the shortest speech by any opposition leader in the history of the National Assembly by an opposition leader –lamented the lack of incentives for the agricultural sector and proposed corrective measures to ensure food security and achieve reliance in the production of agriculture-based products.

He stressed the need for adopting modern harvesting techniques and increasing per acre production of seasonal crops, adding there is a need to focus on research in agriculture to enhance crop productivity.

He demanded the restoration of the price control magistrate system across the country to provide relief to the masses.

He expressed concern over the unchecked activities of middlemen, who, he claimed, were exploiting the people by creating significant price differences between wholesale and common markets.

He highlighted the hardships faced by the industrial sector and requested special attention in this regard from the government.

He expressed dissatisfaction with the budget allocation for the education sector and urged the government to allocate more funds to this sector.

Riaz said that the government made an insufficient budget allocation in the health sector, adding the government should raise the pension of retired employees by 30 per cent instead of 17.5 percent.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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