NATIONAL NEWS

Pakistan learned to respond with ‘iron hands’ after deadly political violence, official says

Jun 27, 2023, 8:11 AM

FILE - Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar, left, speaks to media outside the Supreme Court in Islamabad...

FILE - Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar, left, speaks to media outside the Supreme Court in Islamabad, Pakistan, Tuesday, April 4, 2023. Tarar says he expects a tougher armed response in the event of any repeat of political violence in the country, Tuesday, June 27, accusing followers of former Prime Minister Imran Khan of exploiting the initial “motherly” response to fiery rampages last month.(AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Pakistan’s law minister says he expects a tougher armed response in the event of any repeat of political violence in the country, accusing followers of former Prime Minister Imran Khan of exploiting the initial “motherly” response to fiery rampages last month.

In an interview with The Associated Press during a visit to Washington, Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar issued some of the most extensive comments from Pakistan’s government on its response to the fiery protests last month against the detention of charismatic former premier Imran Khan. Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s government and army are now defending their actions in pursuing both civilian and military trials for at least 102 civilian protesters.

“The state’s reaction was like a motherly reaction towards the citizens,” Tarar told the AP, adding, “that is why the government has decided to deal with iron hands and to make it an example, to ensure that no such incidents take place in the future.”

In the interview late last week, Tarar also defended law enforcement and military officials against criticism they didn’t do enough at the time to stop the violence. Any military response to restore law and order would have required prior authorization from the civilian government, he said.

He described a military and civilian leadership taken by surprise by the attacks on military installations and other sites. The leaders opted to refrain from harming civilians, the minister said. But now, the response is tougher.

“I would say we have learned a lesson,” from the incident, he said, “that if you don’t exercise enough authority and force, you may end up with these kinds of incidents, which … was very painful.”

Tarar also said that legal authorities would not be deterred from prosecuting Khan if investigators determine he appeared to play a criminal role in the attacks, despite concerns that could unleash a fresh wave of violence.

Khan and his followers have been working for his return to political power, alleging that Americans were behind the 2022 no-confidence vote that cost him the premiership.

The demonstrations erupted among supporters of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party after authorities arrested Khan in a graft case, dragging him from a courthouse in the capital, Islamabad.

Thousands of demonstrators attacked the military headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, stormed an air base in Mianwali in the eastern Punjab province and torched a building housing state-run Radio Pakistan in the northwest.

The violence subsided only after Khan was released on an order from Pakistan’s Supreme Court.

At least 10 people were killed in clashes between Khan’s supporters and police and since then, and police have arrested more than 5,000 people in connection with the riots. Most have been freed on bail pending trial.

Pakistan’s military said Monday that it has fired three senior army officers over their failure to prevent the attacks.

In additional to prosecutions in civilian court, Pakistan’s military says it has received cases of 102 civilians for their trials in the military courts over their involvement and the accused persons will get the right of a fair trial. Asked how many civilians he expects to ultimately be tried in military courts in connection with the May 9 violence, Tarar said he did not expect the 102 figure to increase “many fold.”

When asked why the military didn’t do more to stop the attacks as they were happening, Tarar said nobody in the military thought people would breach military installations, “because military protect the homeland.”

The same, he said, goes for the attacks on public monuments to national heroes, saying such a thing is “unheard of in our history.”

Amnesty International has objected to the Pakistan military’s plans, saying that trying civilians in military courts is a violation of international law.

The rights group said it had documented numerous rights violations in Pakistani military courts’ past trials of civilians, including lack of due process and transparency, coerced confessions, and executions after “grossly unfair” proceedings.

National News

FILE - Hunter Biden arrives at federal court, June 3, 2024, in Wilmington, Del. Hunter Biden has dr...

Associated Press

Hunter Biden drops lawsuit against Fox News over explicit images featured in streaming series

NEW YORK (AP) — Hunter Biden has dropped a lawsuit accusing Fox News of illegally publishing explicit images of him as part of a streaming series. An attorney for the president’s son filed a voluntary dismissal notice on Sunday in federal court in New York City, three weeks after the lawsuit was filed. It wasn’t […]

13 minutes ago

Associated Press

Nashville-area GOP House race and Senate primaries top Tennessee’s primary ballot

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A first-term Tennessee congressman backed by former President Donald Trump will face a Republican challenger who calls the lawmaker ineffective, a contest that is among the top races in the state’s August primary election. The primary will also cement who will be the Democratic contender in the fall matchup for the […]

21 minutes ago

Associated Press

One teen is killed and eight others are wounded in shooting at Milwaukee park party, police say

MILWAUKEE (AP) — A 17-year-old girl was killed and eight other teenagers were wounded early Monday in a shooting at a Milwaukee park where dozens of young people had gathered for a party, police said. Officers and first responders found the girl dead and eight other shooting victims at Dineen Park on the city’s west […]

27 minutes ago

Associated Press

US investigating some Jeep and Ram vehicles after getting complaints of abrupt engine stalling

DETROIT (AP) — U.S. auto safety regulators are investigating complaints that some Ram pickup trucks and Jeep Wagoneer SUVs can lose power, shift into park and apply the emergency brake. The probe announced Monday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration covers about 150,000 vehicles made by Stellantis from the 2022 model year. All have […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

US-Russian journalist convicted in a rapid, secret trial, court records show

A Russian court has convicted Alsu Kurmasheva, a Russian-American journalist for the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, of spreading false information about the Russian army and sentenced her to 6½ years in prison after a secret trial, court records and officials said Monday. The conviction in the city of Kazan came on Friday, the […]

2 hours ago

FILE - A Delta Air Lines jet leaves the gate, Friday, July 19, 2024, at Logan International Airport...

Associated Press

Air travel delays continue, though most airlines have recovered from global tech outage

Delays at some airports continue after a faulty software update caused havoc worldwide and led to the grounding by almost all airlines of a number of flights, but the impact is receding. Total cancellations within, into or out of the U.S. earlyl Monday totaled 758, according to the latest data from FlightAware, which is greater […]

2 hours ago

Pakistan learned to respond with ‘iron hands’ after deadly political violence, official says