A Special Corps Commander Conference held at the General Headquarters (GHQ) and presided by Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir has decided that the planners, instigators, abettors and perpetrators of the attacks on military installations and buildings during the protests led by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) supporters will be tried under relevant Pakistani laws, including the Army Act and Official Secret Act. The statement released by the ISPR after the Corps Commanders meeting is not just unprecedented but is being seen as a violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

In a statement, Aurat March Lahore said: “Use of military laws and courts to try civilians, the complete absence of due process, transparency and accountability flies in the face of the pretence of democracy under the current PDM regime… State institutions and monuments are not more important than people’s fundamental rights and lives. Respect must be earned through actions, not through the force of draconian laws.”

It must be noted that if convicted under the Army Act, a person can be sentenced to life imprisonment or be handed a death sentence. Pakistan is going through one of its worst crises ever with the entire system tethering on the brink of collapse. From the military establishment to the judicial establishment, all institutions have lost their credibility. It is high time that political parties and parliament take charge of the situation and make sure that the law is followed instead of going down the path of military trials which offer no transparency.


A word of caution: if the PDM government go down this path and allows civilian rioters to be tried under military laws, the same will one day be applied to their leadership, their supporters and workers. We have seen history repeat itself too many times to not learn a lesson. Democracy is not about punishing your opponents; it is about ensuring that no one is targeted unjustly for their political views. Rioters, when identified, should be prosecuted as per the law of the land in courts, not military courts. If PTI justified arbitrary arrests, detentions and draconian punishments, PDM should refrain from doing so. Politics isn’t about personal enmity.