Brushing aside the concerns of human rights groups, Pakistan Army chief General Asim Munir has said that authorities have initiated a “legal process of trial” under stringent military laws against those involved in recent attacks on military installations following the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan. Gen Munir made the disclosure on Saturday during his visit to the Punjab province capital Lahore, the worst hit city by the violent protests.
According to a late-night statement by the Army, Gen Munir chief addressed the garrison officers and soldiers at the Corps Headquarters.
On May 9, violent protests erupted after the arrest of Khan by paramilitary Rangers from the premises of the Islamabad High Court. His party workers vandalised a dozen military installations, including the Jinnah House (Lahore Corps Commander house), Mianwali airbase and the ISI building in Faisalabad. The Army headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi was also attacked by the mob for the first time.
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. Thousands of Khan’s supporters were arrested following the violence that the powerful Army described as a “dark day” in the history of the country.
General Munir was briefed on the events of May 9. He also visited Jinnah House and other army installations blatantly attacked and vandalised by politically motivated rioters.
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) emphasised that the armed forces draw strength from people and any effort to create a wedge between the Army and the people of Pakistan is an act against the state which is “neither tolerable nor condonable under any circumstances”, the statement said.
“Hostile and inimical forces and their abettors have been trying hard to create confusion through fake news and propaganda but all such designs of the enemy will be defeated with the support of the nation,” he said.
General Munir also visited Qurban Lines and met with police officials and appreciated the professionalism and restraint exercised by them during the riots and vandalism, He assured the Army’s full support to the law enforcement agencies for their capacity enhancement, intelligence sharing and training.