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Photo Source: The Friday Times

Pakistan Reader# 617, 30 June 2023

Pakistan Military and 9 May Violence: The Civilian Clampdown and Self-Accountability



ISPR issues a statement addressing the 9 May violence and announced the removal of three military officials

Ryan Marcus Manuel

On 26 June, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General (DG) Maj-Gen Ahmed Sharif issued a statement addressing the violence following the arrest of PTI Chief Imran Khan on 9 May. He stated that: "the incident of May 9 is extremely disappointing, condemnable and a black chapter in the history of our country…" He remarked that the violence was strategized for several months preceding 9 May by provoking civilians to adopt action against the army. He estimated that more than 95 army personnel were killed and military installations across more than 200 locations were vandalised. The ISPR alleged that the conspiracy was fuelled by exaggerated propaganda over social media. ISPR-DG Ahmed Shariff remarked that the violence failed to tamper the trust between the army and civilians. Maj Gen Chaudhry reiterated that evidence against the 9 May incidents has been collected, and an investigation is underway. He remarked that the attack of PTI against the army was unexpected but successfully foiled.

ISPR's Self Accountability Process 
The ISPR demanding accountability for the ensuing violence, held its own officials under scrutiny. The ISPR DG revealed the completion of the "self-accountability" process was carried out by two Major Generals. Strict disciplinary proceedings against 15 officers including three Major Generals and seven Brigadiers, were carried out, leading to the dismissal of former Lahore Corps Commander Lt Gen Salma Ghani. The ISPR-DG stated that the officers were held accountable for the failure of maintaining the security of garrisons, military installations, Jinnah House and General Headquarters. He cited that the actions were indiscriminate in the ranking system. Additionally, the arrest of relatives of retired generals during the 'self-accountability' proceedings were disclosed.
 
Civilian’s trials under Pakistan Army Act
Maj Gen Chaudhry stated that the trial of 102 civilians charged against violence was in process in 17 military courts under Pakistan Army Act. The accused were entitled to legal rights, including the rights to have a lawyer of choice and right to appeal before high courts and Supreme Court. He claimed that the International Court of Justice validated the proceedings following due deliberation. The ISPR-DG Ahmed Shariff stated the trials were urged by the relatives of military personnel killed in the violence. Additionally, the perpetrators cannot claim human rights violations. The military trials are yet to commence owing to time granted for the accused to hire lawyers. The Pakistan Army Act was meant to prosecute military personnel under the military legal code. However, an amendment in 1966, under the rule of military leader Ayub Khan, extended its application to civilians inciting mutiny.
 
Supreme Court hearing against military trials
On 27 June, the Supreme Court commenced hearing pleas with a six-member on the petitions submitted by Imran Khan, Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president Abid Zuberi and former-CJP Jawwad Khawaja. Khawaja’s petition requested the Supreme Court to hold that civilians not in active service should not be tried in military court and Article 2(1)(d)(i) and (ii) of the Pakistan Army Act 1952 should be declared uncon­stitutional. PTI chief's lawyer Uzair Bhandari pointed out that the accused were charged under anti-terrorism laws but the trials were conducted under the Army Act. The Supreme Court adjourned the hearing indefinitely.
 
Despite the Supreme Court hearing petitions challenging the military court trials of civilians, the army's legal wing is in the process of completing formalities before the proceedings. CJP Umar Ata Bandial stated that he expects no civilians to be tried in military courts until the pleas are heard and a decision is made. International institutions condemned the government’s proposal of military trial where Amnesty International expressed concerns citing that the trials of civilians in military courts is contrary to international law. The PTI has called for a televised trial in civil courts as the Human rights groups point out that military courts have been used to silence opponents' voices.
 
References
Malik Asad, "Military still fulfilling legal formalities for May 9 trials," Dawn, 29 June 2023
"Lieutenant general among 3 sacked as part of army’s self-accountability into May 9 incidents: DG ISPR,Dawn, 26 June 2023
"Pakistan: Civilians must not be tried under military laws,Amnesty International, 16 May 2023
"One Lt General Dismissed, 3 Major Generals Facing Disciplinary Action For 9 May Tragedy: DG ISPR,The Friday Times, 26 June 2023
"Civilians’ trials in military courts have not yet started, AGP tells SC," Dawn,Dawn, 27 June 2023
"PTI Calls For Televised Trial Of Workers In Civil Court,The Friday Times, 28 June 2023
"Multiple high-ranking officers dismissed from service over failure to protect military installations: ISPR DG,The International News, 26 June 2023
"Ex-CJP Khawaja says his plea not for Imran,The International News, 27 June 2023

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