Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan should be tried in a military court for his role in the protests that erupted across the country after his arrest earlier this month, the country’s interior minister has said.
Rana Sanaullah accused ex-Prime Minister Khan of personally planning the attacks on military installations as part of deadly protests across the country after he was arrested on May 9.
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When asked on local news channel Dawn News on Tuesday if Khan would be tried in the military court, Sanaullah replied, “Absolutely, why shouldn’t he? The programme that he made to target the military installations and then had it executed, in my understanding absolutely is a case of a military court.”
“He carried it all out. He is the architect of all this discord,” Sanaullah said.
“[The evidence] is documented, it is in tweets and his messages. All this [planning] was decided before he went [to jail] that who will do what and where. And when he is arrested, what would be the strategy and duties. All of this was decided.”
At least eight people were killed and 290 injured when protesters clashed with police during Khan’s appearance in court in the capital, Islamabad, to face corruption allegations.
Military installations, including the residence of the corps commander in Lahore and the army’s General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, were targeted by protesters. The government and military promised to take action against the culprits.
On Monday, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said there was no decision yet about Khan’s trial under the Army Act, but added that he could not “rule out” such a possibility.
Last week, a Lahore court handed 16 civilians to the military for trial for their suspected involvement in the protests.
Military courts are primarily used to try enemies of the state.
Rights monitors said authorities have detained thousands of supporters of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party since the street violence, which saw Khan’s supporters rampage through cities, setting fire to buildings, blocking roads and clashing with police.
The former national cricket captain is embroiled in the latest, critical phase of a decades-old rivalry between civilian politicians and the powerful military, which has ruled directly or overseen governments throughout Pakistan’s history.
Since he was removed from office in a vote of no confidence last year, 70-year-old Khan has waged an unprecedented campaign of defiance against the powerful military. It has ruled the South Asian nation for almost half its history through three coups and has long been regarded as Pakistan’s powerbrokers.
Khan accuses the top brass of orchestrating his downfall and even plotting a November assassination attempt in which he was shot in the leg, allegations that the army denied.
His arrest on corruption charges at the Islamabad High Court came just hours after he repeated the claim.
The military has denied claims by Khan that “agencies” planned the violence to smear his party.