‘Changes to Army Act’

Published Nov 28, 2012 12:15am

THIS is apropos of your editorial ‘Changes to Army Act’ (Nov 14) which has touched the core aspects of army discipline and as rightly pointed out this amounts to disturbing the internal system of the army.

First, let us be clear about the current system of trying any convict against an act committed by anyone prejudice to the good order of military discipline where the accused is given complete freedom to prove his innocence and can avail the facility of any lawyer to defend himself.

All statements of witnesses irrespective of trials are recorded in the presence of accused with complete freedom to cross examine the witnesses as per his desire.

The only difference between civil and military trial is that cases are not prolonged because of one major factor that case against any person subject to the Army Act is only initiated when complete evidence has been obtained as a result the justice is dispensed within laid out time. This is speedy justice.

This is a tested and tried system, very transparent and followed by rest of the armies of the world. As far as appeals are concerned, like civil courts, the accused has a right to appeal right up to the army chief and that is also decided within given timeframe.

It is incorrect to suggest that serving officers will take decisions that differ from those of the high command. This is a wrong perception and hundreds of examples can be given where the courts awarded punishment and it was not liked by the higher authority.

Army’s system of accountability is time tested and within the accepted norms of the military culture and tradition.

The Pakistan Army is voluntary army. The people join voluntarily and they take the oath to serve the army and obey orders in letter and in spirit. If the army starts giving options to soldiers and allows them to contest orders no one would like to go to Siachen or any theatre of operations. They will file a suit and get away.

In the army, the Army Act acts like a bible duly approved by the government and practised over years. We cannot amend laws on individual cases. It must be seen in the larger perspective and in the interest of the institution of course within the domain of the Constitution.

Like the navy and the air force, carrying out amendments in the army rules and regulations is also a regular feature but is not made public. Pakistan Army Act is applicable to all soldiers and is applied without any discrimination.

However, in certain cases the army allows trial of uniformed personnel in the civil courts at the sole discretion of the competent authority. Amending the Army Act may not be wrong but the expert internal advice of military as an institution must be sought before embarking on this reformist adventure.

MUKHTAR AHMED BUTT Karachi


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Comments (5) (Closed)


Mani
Nov 29, 2012 03:30pm
If there was accountability in the army, men like Gen Niazi, Aslam Baig, Durrani, Musharaf, Zia, Ijaz Shah, Akhtar Abdur Rehman, Saeed uz Zaman, would have been punished and dishonorably retired from service without benefits, instead of being allotted lands and given immunity. Everybody who gets paid by the state and tax payer must be made accountable before law of land and judiciary.
r.s.soni
Nov 28, 2012 02:18pm
sir, no need to tinker with army act.no innocent person is charged with offense like in civil some times. it is a fair and impartial system. rightly said it has stood the test of time
Aj
Nov 28, 2012 06:29pm
could not have been more clearer. Well written
Syed
Nov 28, 2012 06:00pm
Very finely described implications of Army Act and functioning of Army system accordingly. The politicians have already destroyed the Civil Service System and now they are hovering around Army and want to make a dent anywhere in its functioning at any cost. What a tragedy! They are destructive by nature and cannot tolerate smooth functioning institution since ages.
Syed Ahmed
Nov 28, 2012 04:30pm
There is no need to amend the Pakistan Army Act. As it is flawless and workable. What have we achieved by amending the constitution several times ? chaos and confusion?