• Three-star general, two others shown the door; proceedings against 15 officers concluded • ISPR chief says ‘masterminds, planners’ tried to exploit situation, doesn’t take any names • Spokesperson reveals military proceedings against 102 people ‘underway’

ISLAMABAD: The military revealed on Monday it had sacked three officers — including a lieutenant general — and concluded disciplinary proceedings against 15 officers, including three major generals and seven brigadiers, over the events of May 9.

However, the army’s spokesperson Maj Gen Ahmed Sharif Chau­dhry did not name the officers against whom the action was taken.

The Inter-Services Public Relat­ions (ISPR) director general made disclosures about disciplinary proceedings against the army officers in a press conference attended by a select group of journalists.

The spokesperson told reporters that disciplinary proceedings were initiated against these officers due to their negligence to protect military installations from violent protesters following the arrest of PTI chief Imran Khan in a corruption case.

He said military courts were indispensable to hold perpetrators and facilitators of the May 9 violence accountable, adding that 102 individuals were facing trials in these courts.

• Three-star general, two others shown the door; proceedings against 15 officers concluded • ISPR chief says ‘masterminds, planners’ tried to exploit situation, doesn’t take any names • Spokesperson reveals military proceedings against 102 people ‘underway’

The statement came as the Supreme Court, hearing pleas against the trials of civilians in the military courts, observed that it expected military courts to stay proceedings against violent protesters. The ISPR chief said that proceedings against those referred to military courts were already underway.

The ISPR chief said that following the attacks on installations, two high-level inquiries — headed by major generals — commenced to examine “each and every detail of the attacks” on army property and recommended action against certain officers.

Action against relatives

On the basis of these recommendations, three officers — including a three-star general — were sacked, while the disciplinary proceedings against 15 officers were concluded.

The ISPR chief disclosed that two close relatives of retired four-star generals, including a granddaughter and a son-in-law, spouses of a retired three-star and two-star generals, and the son-in-law of a two-star general were facing strict ‘self-accountability proceedings’.

The DG ISPR said that the military was being targeted for over a year for “vested political interest and lust for power”, whereas May 9 was a time when “anti-army rhetoric was at its peak” and “naive people were persuaded for a false revolution”.

“The people were incited to mutiny,” he said, adding that the available evidence proved that the masterminds and the facilitators were brainwashing the public against the military’s leadership.

Maj-Gen Chaudhry said that following “the arrest” [of Imran Khan], over 20 military installations in Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Mardan, Chakdara, Lahore, Sargodha, Faisalabad, Mianwali, and Multan were attacked by protesters.

In his words, “three to four masterminds and ten to twelve planners” attempted to escalate the May 9 situation, as they thought the military would react in a way that would suit their “nefarious designs”.

But the army has shown “restraint”, he said. Although he did not take any names, it was clear that he was referring to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), led by former prime minister Imran Khan.

The ISPR chief was adamant that justice would not be served unless the culprits were taken to task over the May 9 violence.

Otherwise, he warned, any political group would repeat such a violent episode for their vested interest. If the masterminds were not being dealt with then it would lead to internal strife which ultimately would pave the way for external aggression, he added.

102 in military courts

Gen Chaudhry also disclosed that, prior to May 9, 17 standing military courts were operating across the country under the Pakistan Army Act (PAA).

He said that “102 miscreants” were being tried in the military courts and their cases were transferred from civil courts in accordance with the law in light of available evidence.

He claimed that the accused being tried by the military were entitled to legal rights, including the right to have a lawyer of their choice and the right to appeal before the high courts and the Supreme Court.

The spokesman said that the army act has remained a part of the legal framework for several decades and added that hundreds of cases were decided under this law.

He claimed that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) had also validated the due process of decisions of military courts after due deliberation.

During the question-answer session, Maj-Gen Chaudhry remained quite restrained. When asked about PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s repeated offers for dialogue with the military establishment, the spokesman said the army leadership had urged political stakeholders to reach a national consensus.

He also dispelled an impression that there was any censorship of the media, but advised outlets to “follow ethical codes”. He also dismissed the accusation of human rights violations being committed against political workers, claiming that “fake videos are being disseminated in the social media to create such an impression”.

The military’s spokesman also distanced the army from the successive press conferences of PTI leaders who parted ways with the former ruling party in the wake of the May 9 violence.

Published in Dawn, June 27th, 2023

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