Rabbani opposes trial under Army Act

ISLAMABAD, May 17: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Mian Raza Rabbani has opposed the government’s plan to try the rioters—who vandalized state properties and military installations after former prime minister Imran Khan’s arrest on May 9— under the Pakistan Army Act, 1953

“A criminal justice system exists with special anti-terrorism laws and courts. Being civilians the planners, abetters and attackers should be tried under this system,” Rabbani who also served as Senate chairman said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

He said civilians must not be tried under the Pakistan Army Act, 1952.

“Such trials will raise the question of transparency and draw the debate in a direction that will generate sympathy [for the people who carried out the attacks]. Further, it is against the fundamental rights [enshrined] in the Constitution, 1973. This has been my constant position,” he said.

He issued a statement wherein it is stated that no leniency should be shown towards those who attacked, burnt and looted public and defence installations under a political agenda.

Rabbani said 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.

Referring to formation of military courts after the December 2014 attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar he said a one-time amendment was made in the law in 2015, “which was also not a correct decision, but that too has lapsed”.

“The government should rethink the question of trial of civilians under the Army Act, 1952, but not let up on awarding the strictest sentences under the criminal justice system,” he said.

The civil leadership and military top brass on Tuesday endorsed a decision made a day earlier during a meeting of corps commanders to invoke the army act and Official Secrets Act against people involved in the May 9 riots which damaged the state and private properties across Pakistan.

The National Security Committee (NSC) chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also decided to lay hands within 72 hours on all those involved in the violent attacks, their facilitators, and leaders on whose instigation these people had committed vandalism.

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