Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar said on Wednesday that trials under Army Act meet the “internationally acknowledged minimum requirements” that form the basis of a fair trial, Aaj News reported.

He made these remarks while talking to the media after a meeting of the Supreme Judicial Council in Islamabad.

The government's decision to try the suspects accused of attacking military installations on May 9 under army laws prompted the minister to cite Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966, which grants individuals the right to appoint legal counsel, present evidence, access relevant records, and seek judicial review.

Tarar stated that the army laws include all these aspects, meeting the internationally acknowledged minimum requirements for fair procedure and law.

When asked whether any “special considerations” were being mulled regarding the trial of women under army laws, the minister replied, “Matters [pertaining to military trials] will be decided according to the operation of the law. It is not the choice of the federal government or any institution. The relevant institution will proceed on this in line with how they are satisfied with the [available] material,”

The minister's comments come amid concerns surrounding the government's choice to prosecute the May 9 suspects under army laws.

Nationwide protests erupted following the arrest of PTI chief Imran Khan by the Rangers from the Islamabad High Court in a corruption case on May 9. While these protests were ongoing, public and private properties, including military installations, were subjected to vandalism and attacks.

Consequently, the army labeled the events a "black chapter" and subsequently announced its intention to try the rioters under relevant laws, including the Pakistan Army Act and Official Secrets Act. The National Security Committee, the country's primary decision-making body on foreign policy and national security, endorsed this decision, despite opposition from rights organizations and activists.

The PTI has lodged a petition with the Supreme Court challenging the federal government's decision to prosecute civilians under the Army Act. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif clarified last month that only those accused of damaging civilian infrastructure would be tried under anti-terrorism laws, while individuals accused of vandalizing military property would face trial under military laws.

So far, a Lahore anti-terrorism court has approved the transfer of 16 suspects to the military, while a Rawalpindi court has granted the handover of an additional eight suspects.

These developments occurred within a week in May. In the interim, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah announced that 33 suspects, 19 in Punjab and 14 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, had been handed over to the military following the attacks on army installations during the May 9 protests.

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Parvez Jun 14, 2023 11:10pm
His logic is badly flawed and transparent. It's a smart " political play " that gets a political result at the expense of the establishment.
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