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Trials under the Army Act an internal issue: Khar

Hina Rabbani Khar, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, has defended the federal government’s move to put people on trial for attacks on state and army installations under the Pakistan Army Act of 1952. She said that no government can tolerate arson and vandalism.

“Is there any country in the world that doesn’t do anything about mischief and fires? “Everyone saw how the Americans responded to the attack on Capitol Hill,” a state minister told reporters on Tuesday after a government meeting.

On May 17, the country’s civilian and military leaders agreed with a decision made by corps commanders the day before to use the Pakistan Army Act, 1952, and the Official Secrets Act, 1923, against people who were involved in the riots on May 9.

On May 9, Imran Khan, the leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), was taken into custody from the high court in the federal capital. This led to violent protests all over the country.

Later, the government went after the leaders and workers of the PTI in a big way. Tens of thousands of people were arrested on charges of attacking civilian and military buildings.

The state minister said that she met with EU officials at the Indo-Pacific Forum and talked with them. She said that no other country gave her any advice about how the army act should be used to try people who set fires. “However, the rioting in Pakistan worried all countries,” she said.

Khar said that everyone saw how Pakistan’s security forces responded when protesters attacked government buildings. “The security forces were careful so that no one would get hurt,” she said.

Khar said, speaking to the head of the PTI in a roundabout way, that no one can use his fame to start a fire in the country. She said that no one wants those who destroyed state property for political reasons to get off easy.

“We are trying to bring peace as soon as we can. We will protect the rights that the people of Pakistan have by law. No matter what, arsonists can’t be let off the hook because Pakistan’s image is the most important thing right now.”

When asked about former US ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad, who has criticized the Pakistani government for cracking down on the PTI, the state minister said she didn’t want to talk about the former US official.