Islamabad, June 26
The Pakistani Army on Monday announced that three officers, including a Lieutenant General, were sacked and action was taken against three Major Generals and seven Brigadiers for failing to protect key military installations during the May 9 violence following the arrest of former prime minister Imran Khan.
Supporters of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party vandalised over 20 military installations and government buildings, including the Lahore Corps Commander House, Mianwali airbase and the ISI building in Faisalabad. The Army headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi was also attacked by the mob for the first time.
Addressing a press conference, military spokesman Major General Arshad Sharif said the Army conducted two probes into the protests by PTI supporters and took action.
“After a deliberate accountability process, keeping the requests of in-court inquiries in view, disciplinary proceedings were initiated against those who failed to keep the security and honour of garrisons, military installations, Jinnah House and General Headquarters intact.
“Three officers, including a Lieutenant General, have been removed and strict disciplinary proceedings completed against other officers, including three Major Generals and seven Brigadiers, have been completed,” he said.
He said probes were carried out by officers of Major General-level officers.
Without giving details, including the identity of the officers, Maj Gen Sharif said that the action taken by the Army shows that there is a system of strict self-accountability within the military and action is taken irrespective of post or position.
He said that accountability in the Pakistani Army was carried out without discrimination, irrespective of rank or social status.
“As of now, a granddaughter of a retired four-star General, son-in-law of a retired four-star general, wife of a retired three-star General, and wife and son-in-law of a retired two-star General are facing this process of accountability due to irrefutable evidence,” he said.
“All the people involved (in the May 9 violence) will be punished under the Constitution and law,” said Sharif.
The May 9 violence elicited a strong reaction from the government and military, with vows of taking action against the culprits, leading to an ongoing crackdown against those involved.
Sharif described the incident of May 9 as “extremely disappointing, condemnable and a black chapter in the history of our country”.
“The events of May 9 have proven what enemies couldn’t do in 76 years, a bunch of miscreants and their facilitators did,” the officer said, as he described the incident as “a conspiracy against Pakistan”.
He also said that already 17 standing military courts have been working even before May 9 “where 102 miscreants involved in May 9 are being tried”. He said that their cases were shifted by civil courts after seeing the evidence.
Sharif said that those being tired have lawyers to defend them and they can also appeal against verdicts in high courts and supreme courts. He said that these courts are part of existing laws and already several cases have been decided by these courts.
He rejected the impression that May 9 was staged to target a political party and said TV footage and other evidence showed that it was premeditated. He said dozens of military installations were targeted within two hours of Khan’s arrest.
“I ask if the Army burnt monuments of martyrs with its own hands,” he said.
He said the “investigation held until now has proven that May 9 was being planned for the past several months”.
Sharif rejected the impression of human rights violations after the May 9 arrests and crackdown against the miscreants and said that actions were being taken within the ambit of the laws of the country.
He also said that despite challenges the Army was determined to eliminate militancy and so far 13,619 intelligence-based operations had been done this year and at least 1,172 terrorists were either killed or arrested.
“At least 95 officers and jawans have been killed in these operations this year,” he said, adding that at least 77 operations were being done on a daily basis by the security agencies.
He also said that the war against terrorism would continue. “The war against terrorism will continue until the last terrorist is killed,” he said.
Sharif said that the gap in defence spending with India was widening but the defence budget would only increase if the national pie increased. “The gap with India is not new, as it has been going on for decades,” he said.
He said the defence budget had decreased from 16 per cent last year to 12.4 per cent this year.