Pakistan Court Declares Military Trials of Pro-Khan Protesters Unconstitutional
Pakistan’s Top Court Rules on Military Trials
Pakistan’s top court ruled on Monday that military trials of civilians are unconstitutional, bringing relief to dozens of individuals on trial for their involvement in ransacking military installations during protests in May. These protests were sparked by the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Fears Over Fair Process
Initially, the government had planned to use military courts to try the suspects. However, this decision raised concerns about the fairness of the process. Critics argued that military courts lack the same standards of evidence and due process as civilian criminal courts.
A Victory for Democracy
The Supreme Court, in a short order, declared that proceedings under the Army Act would have no legal effect. As a result, the trials of the 103 individuals involved will now be moved to civilian criminal courts. Petitioner Aitzaz Ahsan, a prominent lawyer and former minister, hailed the court’s decision as a victory for democracy.
Background of Protests
Following Imran Khan’s brief arrest by paramilitary soldiers, hundreds of his supporters stormed military and government installations, even going as far as torching a general’s house. Khan had accused the military of attempting to assassinate him, but the military denied these allegations. They claimed that the attacks were planned and ordered by leaders of Khan’s party to create political unrest and force early elections.
Military Courts Under Scrutiny
The decision to use military courts was made by the government of Khan’s rival, Shehbaz Sharif. However, the use of military courts to try civilians has faced widespread condemnation both within Pakistan and abroad. Critics argue that these courts operate under a separate system and do not provide the same level of transparency and fair trial rights as civilian criminal courts.
The Supreme Court’s ruling marks an important step towards upholding the principles of democracy and ensuring fair trial rights for all citizens in Pakistan. It sets a precedent for future cases involving military trials of civilians and emphasizes the importance of an impartial and transparent judicial system.