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Pakistani Army and Maryam Nawaz find common ground for military trial of  pro-Imran arsonists 

General Asim Munir prays at the martyrs' memorial (Photo: Pakistani Army)

Even as the Pakistani Army doubles down on former prime minister Imran Khan’s supporters who vandalised and burnt military residences and installations, Maryam Nawaz – Senior Vice President of the ruling party has asserted that the suspects should be tried only in military courts, and not civil courts.

Maryam, the daughter of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and the niece of current Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, has reinforced her distrust of the country’s judiciary with whom her party has been at loggerheads. With her assertion that the alleged rioters be tried only in military courts, she has cemented her support for the army, which now seeks vengeance against Khan’s supporters.

Addressing members of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Maryam said: “I fully endorse the trial of the May 9 arsonists in the military courts. Although these cases should go to the civilian courts, but they are facilitating the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leaders”. With her statement she made it clear that the distrust between her party and the Pakistani judiciary over election dates, which had her party in revolt against the Supreme Court, has only deepened.

Agreeing that all these cases should be going to civilian courts, the PML-N leader said that attacking the military is a heinous crime and added that Khan’s supporters should be tried out by military courts as the civilian courts are siding with Khan’s party by giving them bails. She also alleged that the civilian courts have become a tool for PTI and cannot be trusted with meting out justice.

The army has already started the legal process against Khan’s supporters under the Pakistan Army Act and the Official Secrets Act, and not under the country’s civil laws.

According to the Pakistani army, General Munir told officers and soldiers on Saturday that “the armed forces will not tolerate any further attempt of violating the sanctity and security of its installations or vandalism and resolved to bring to justice all the planners, abettors, instigators and executors of vandalism on the Black Day of 9th May”.

Meanwhile, Mohsin Naqvi, Punjab’s interim chief minister, made it clear that women involved in the May 9 attacks will be arrested at all costs. He said: “The women involved in attacks on the military installations do not deserve any leniency”. His government has drawn up a list of 500 women who are believed to be involved in the violent protests.

The Pakistani Army has labeled May 9 as “Black Day” as Khan’s supporters vented out their fury on army institutions after their leader was arbitrarily arrested by the paramilitary forces from the Islamabad High Court. The unprecedented mass attack on the army has shaken the nation and now the army has resolved to take revenge.

The Pakistani Army is already under attack in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by Baloch nationalists and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, also called the Pakistani Taliban. It was completely rattled when the people vandalised military establishments including the Lahore Corps Commander’s residence, the ISI headquarters in Faisalabad and the Martyrs’ Monument in Lahore. Many army personnel were attacked by Khan’s supporters during the May 9 clashes.

The army chief has addressed the corps commanders and soldiers a number of times since the May 9 violence to boost the low morale of the soldiers who are under attack across the land.

Also read: Has the embattled Pakistani Army gained an upper hand against Imran Khan?