No state can tolerate arson, vandalism: Khar

State minister says no person can be allowed to take advantage of his fame in order to set the country on fire

Our Correspondent May 24, 2023
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar. Photo: APP


Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar has defended the federal government’s decision to hold trial of people involved in attack on state and army installations under the Pakistan Army Act, 1952, saying that no state can condone incidents of arson and vandalism.

“Is there any state in the world that does not respond to arson and vandalism? Everyone saw the response to the attack on Capitol Hill in America,” the state minister said on Tuesday while talking to journalists after a parliamentary meeting.

The country’s civil and military leaders on May 17 endorsed a decision made a day earlier during a meeting of corps commanders to invoke the Pakistan Army Act, 1952 and the Official Secrets Act, 1923 against people involved in the May 9 riots.

Violent protests sparked across the country on May 9 after Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan was arrested from the premises of the federal capital’s high court.

The government later launched a massive crackdown against the PTI leaders and workers and rounded up thousands of people on charges of attacking civil and military installations.

The state minister said she held discussions with the representatives of the European Union at the Indo-Pacific Forum. She claimed that no country gave her any advice with regard to the trial of arsonists under the army act. “All countries were, however, concerned about the rioting in Pakistan,” she added.

Khar said the world saw how Pakistan's security forces reacted when rioters launched an attack on state installations. “The security forces exercised restraint so that there might be no loss of life,” she added.

Obliquely referring to the PTI chief, Khar said no person can be allowed to take advantage of his fame in order to set the country on fire. No one wants those who destroyed state properties under the guise of politics to be spared, she said.

“Our effort is to bring peace as soon as possible. We will protect the constitutional rights of the people of Pakistan. Arsonists cannot be spared under any circumstances as what matters most at this time is Pakistan's reputation.”

To a question about Zalmay Khalilzad, former US ambassador to the UN, who has been criticizing the Pakistan government for launching a crackdown against the PTI, the state minister said she did not want to respond to the former US official.

Note: An earlier version of the story incorrectly attributed the state minister as saying that “trials under army act internal issue”. The mistake is regretted.


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