Pakistan interior minister: former PM Imran Khan should face military trial News
Public Domain / Voice of America
Pakistan interior minister: former PM Imran Khan should face military trial

Pakistani Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah called Tuesday for former Prime Minister Imran Khan to be tried in a military court following the outbreak of nationwide protests over his May 9 arrest. Sanaullah referred to Khan as the “architect of all this discord” amidst an ongoing crackdown on the former prime minister’s party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). Most recently, on Thursday, Pakistani authorities arrested PTI President Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi outside of his home.

Sanaullah appeared on Pakistani news channel Dawn News on Tuesday and said that Khan should be tried in a military court. He claimed to have evidence showing that, before his arrest, Khan planned attacks on military installations. Sanaullah claimed that attacks on military installations, which occurred during the ensuing nationwide protests against Khan’s arrest, were connected to these plans. Sanaullah said, “The program that he made to target the military installations and then had it executed, in my understanding it absolutely is a case of military court.”

One such attack occurred when protesters stormed Jinnah House, the residence of the corps commander in Lahore, Pakistan. Khan was supposed to appear before a joint investigation team regarding the Jinnah House incident on Tuesday—the same day as Sanaullah’s comments. The joint investigation team is investigating whether or not Khan abetted the protesters in ransacking and setting fire to Jinnah House. Khan never appeared, however, citing “security threats.”

The fallout from the May 9 protests has been massive. According to Dawn News, Pakistani authorities rounded up as many as 1,900 protesters in connection with May 9. Since then, Sanaullah announced 33 protesters would be handed over to the Pakistani Army to face trial in a military court—a move which Amnesty International condemned as a violation of international human rights law.

Additionally, journalists covering the ongoing crackdown have been subject to disappearances, arrests, attacks and surveillance. Shortly after the May 9 protests, a JURIST dispatch correspondent from Pakistan also noted that popular social media platforms have been slow or inoperable, calling the moment “unprecedented.”