Army vows to try violent protesters, abettors under military law

CCC resolves that restraint will no longer be exercised against people attacking military installations

By
Zarmeen Zehra
COAS General Asim Munir chairs a Special Corps Commanders Conference in Rawalpindi, on May 15, 2023, in this still taken from a video. — ISPR
COAS General Asim Munir chairs a Special Corps Commanders Conference in Rawalpindi, on May 15, 2023, in this still taken from a video. — ISPR

  • COAS Gen Munir chairs special CCC meeting.
  • Army not to exercise restraint against attackers.
  • Military seeks consensus for political stability.


RAWALPINDI: The military's top brass vowed Monday to try protesters and their abettors under relevant laws, including the Pakistan Army Act and the Official Secrets Act, after Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) workers and supporters stormed military installations on May 9, which the army dubbed as "Black Day".

The decision came during a Special Corps Commanders Conference (CCC) held at the General Headquarters with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Asim Munir in the chair, according to a statement from the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

The violent protests were triggered soon after PTI Chairman Imran Khan was arrested and sent to jail in the Al-Qadir Trust case, but after walking free on bail, the party chief insisted his workers did not instigate violence and distanced the PTI from them.

Following the arrest of Khan, who has criticised the military since his ouster in April last year, the PTI workers raised the stakes and attacked an entrance gate of the GHQ among other installations of the armed forces.

"The forum expressed [a] firm resolve that those involved in these heinous crimes against the military installations and personal/ equipment will be brought to justice through trials under relevant laws of Pakistan including Pakistan Army Act and Official Secret Act," the statement mentioned.

The military's top brass also resolved that restraint will no longer be exercised against perpetrators, spoilers, and violators who attack military installations and setups under any circumstances.

The ISPR, quoting the commanders, said that based on the irrefutable evidence collected so far, the armed forces are well aware of the planners, instigators, abettors, and perpetrators of these attacks "and attempts to create distortions in this regard are absolutely futile".

The forum was briefed that a well-coordinated arson plan — involving the desecration of Shuhada pictures, monuments, burning down of historical buildings and vandalism of military installations — was "executed to malign the institution and provoke it towards giving an impulsive reaction". 

The forum condemned, in the strongest possible sense, the politically motivated and instigated incidents against military installations and public and private properties.

"The commanders also communicated the anguish and sentiments of the rank and file of the army on these unfortunate and unacceptable incidents," the statement said.

'Concern over propaganda'

The CCC also expressed concern over propaganda against the army leadership, which it said was externally sponsored and internally facilitated and orchestrated to create fissures both between the armed forces and the people as well as within the army's ranks.

The vicious propaganda of such inimical forces will be defeated with the support of the people, who have always stood with the armed forces during all odds, the statement said.

"Forum stressed the need for strict implementation of relevant laws to penali[s]e the violators of the social media rules and regulations," it said.

The forum also emphasised the need for national consensus among all stakeholders to address ongoing political instability as a priority to restore public confidence, reinvigorate economic activity, and strengthen the democratic process.

"The forum resolved to support all such efforts to reach this much-needed consensus. Forum resolved that the Pakistan Army with the full support of [the] people, will defeat all nefarious designs of the enemies of Pakistan."

Operations

The participants paid rich tribute to the martyrs, who have laid their lives in defence of the motherland while fighting the menace of terrorism.

The forum acknowledged the successful counter-terrorism and intelligence-based operations in the country by security forces, especially the valiant response given by the troops in the Muslim Bagh attack, and paid rich tribute to the supreme sacrifices made by the brave sons of the soil.

The forum was briefed in detail about the prevailing internal and external security environment.

The CCC also took comprehensive stock of the law and order situation in the past few days that was created to achieve vested political interests. 

PTI distances itself from protests

PTI Chairman Khan last week denied that his party workers were involved in attacks on military establishments, including the Lahore Corps Commander House and the GHQ.

In his first address after his release, Khan called for an independent inquiry to unearth the truth. The PTI chairman said that those who were escaping from the elections wanted to create unrest and chaos in the country, not his party.

Khan said he was against violence and vandalism, adding that his party always remained peaceful despite all kinds of provocations. The deposed prime minister slammed the establishment for “attacking” him as if he was “the biggest terrorist of Pakistan”.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said that COAS Gen Munir is not willing to talk to PTI Chairman Khan and interfere in the democratic process.

The minister said the incumbent COAS, when he was the spy chief, informed then-prime minister Khan that his cabinet minister and wife were involved in corruption and also provided evidence.

“Instead of taking action against the corrupt [officials], Imran removed him from the post of DG ISI,” she said.