Former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party moved the Supreme Court on Monday against trying civilians involved in the May 9 attacks on Army installations in military courts, terming the government’s decision a “clear violation” of the constitutional guarantees of due process and fair trial. The petition moved by the party’s Additional Secretary General Omar Ayub Khan sought the top court’s intervention under Article 184(3), according to Geo TV.
The petition has put 22 questions before the apex court asking for its input on the scope of the law, whether the requisition violates Article 17 or not and if the deployment is a “threat to the system of parliamentary democracy,” the report said. The petition also asks the court to examine if the requisition of the armed forces is “malafide and in excess of jurisdiction” as the federal government had claimed that they could not be deployed due to the security situation during elections. “Whether the trial of civilians through military courts is a clear violation of the Constitutional guarantees of due process and fair trial and violation of Pakistan’s existing obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as the jurisprudence developed by this Honourable Court?” according to the petition.
The petition also questioned the “federal government’s support” of the public gathering held by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) outside the Supreme Court showing a “discriminatory attitude” towards the use of Article 245 and Section 144. It also questioned whether the labelling of the PTI as a “terrorist organisation” was a tactic not to hold elections and “oust” the Khan-led party from the electoral process, the report added. The National Assembly, the lower house of Pakistan’s Parliament, on Monday passed a resolution vowing to try May 9 rioters, who were involved in attacks on military and state installations, under the existing laws including the Army Act and the Anti-Terrorism Act.
The resolution, which was moved by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, has been adopted by the House after a majority of lawmakers voted in favour of it. On May 9, Khan, 70, was arrested by the paramilitary Pakistan Rangers in a corruption case while he was at the Islamabad High Court premises that triggered unrest across the country. For the first time in Pakistan’s history, the protesters stormed the army headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi and also torched a corps commander’s house in Lahore. Police put the death toll in violent clashes to 10, while Khan’s party claims 40 of its workers lost their lives in the firing by security personnel.
Last week, the top military brass vowed to bring the arsonists, who attacked the civil and military installations, to justice through trial under relevant laws of the country, including the stringent Pakistan Army Act and Official Secrets Act. Khan, a cricketer-turned-politician, was ousted from power in April last year after losing a no-confidence vote in his leadership, which he alleged was part of a US-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China and Afghanistan.