Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Civilians must not be tried under army act: PPP's Raza Rabbani

Rabbani says no leniency should be shown to those who attacked public and defence installations

Senator Raza Rabbani speaks during a joint session of Majlis-e-Shoora on February 8, 2023. — NNI
Senator Raza Rabbani speaks during a joint session of Majlis-e-Shoora on February 8, 2023. — NNI

  • Civilian attackers should be tried under ciminal justice system: Rabbani.
  • PPP senator says trials under Army Act would raise question of transparency.
  • "Trials of arson under Army Act will be challenged before superior courts."

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Raza Rabbani has opposed the trial of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) protesters under the Army Act for attacking defence installations and damaging public properties following the party chief Imran Khan's arrest in a graft case on May 9.

“ leniency should be shown towards those who attacked, burnt and looted public and defence installations under a political agenda,” the PPP senator said in a statement on Wednesday.

His statement comes a day after the high-powered National Security Committee (NSC) endorsed the Corps Commander Conference's decision to hold the trial of arsonists under the Army Act, Official Secrets Act, and other concerned laws under the Constitution.

Senator Rabbani said a criminal justice system was present with special anti-terrorist laws and courts. “Being civilians the planners, abetters and attackers should be tried under this system.”

He said civilians must not be tried under the Pakistan Army Act, 1952, as such trials would raise the question of transparency and draw the debate in a direction that will generate sympathy.

The PPP leader further said it was against the fundamental rights in the Constitution and added that this had been his constant position on this issue.

Such trials of arson and burning under the Army Act, 1952, will be challenged before the superior courts and are likely to be found not in accordance with law, he added.

Referring to the establishment of military courts to try terrorists, the senator said a one-time amendment was made by Parliament in 2015, which was also not a correct decision, but that too has lapsed.

He urged the coalition government to rethink the question of the trial of civilians under the Army Act, but not let up on awarding the strictest sentences under the criminal justice system.

A day earlier, a statement issued by the Prime Minister House, said the NSC, while strongly condemning military installations' acts of arson for the sake of political motives and personal interests, declared to observe May 9 as ‘Black Day’ at the national level.

The participants of the NSC meeting expressed complete solidarity and support for the armed forces. The meeting expressed the resolve that desecration and military installations and public property were intolerable and pledged to bring all the culprits to task.

Earlier on Monday, a Special Corps Commanders’ Conference with Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir in the chair had also expressed the resolve to hold the trial of abettors, planners and miscreants involved in attacks on military installations and public property under the Army Act and the Official Secret Act.