High treason comment sparks ruckus in NA

Opposition leader calls for unveiling of judicial commissions’ reports on national tragedies

Waqas Ahmed May 13, 2024
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif speaking during a session of National Assembly on May 13, 2024. PHOTO: NATIONAL ASSEMBLY/FACEBOOK


The government and opposition traded barbs in the lower house on Monday, with the latter calling for the unveiling of judicial commissions’ reports on various national tragedies, and the former seeking high treason proceedings against deceased dictators, including Field Marshal Ayub Khan.

Kicking off the debate on President Asif Ali Zardari’s address to the parliament, Leader of Opposition Omar Ayub—also the grandson of Ayub Khan—dismissed a recent press conference by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) chief ahead of the first anniversary of the May 9, 2023 incidents of vandalism.

Omar, a member of the PTI, stated that the press conference, in which the military’s spokesperson demanded an apology from PTI founder Imran Khan for the May 9 mayhem, was political in nature.

The leader of the opposition remarked that officers of the armed forces take an oath not to indulge in politics. He emphasized that the country would progress only when all institutions stayed within their limits. “Article 6 of the Constitution applies to all who subvert or suspend the Constitution,” he added.

The first section of Article 6 states that any person who abrogates, subverts, or suspends the Constitution by force or show of force shall be guilty of high treason.

The second section deals with the punishment for those found guilty of high treason, stating that they shall be punishable by death or life imprisonment.

Omar Ayub demanded the formation of a judicial commission to probe the May 9, 2023 incidents and the April 10, 1988 Ojhri Camp fiasco. He also demanded the publication of the inquiry report on the December 16, 2014 Army Public School attack.

“Additionally, reports of other commissions such as the Hamoodur Rahman Commission and the Abbottabad Commission should also be made public,” he added.

The Hamoodur Rahman Commission was formed to investigate the causes of the Fall of Dhaka, while the Abbottabad Commission was formed to probe the May 2, 2011 killing of Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in a CIA-led operation inside Pakistan.

Omar Ayub claimed that the May 9, 2023 incidents were part of a plan to discredit PTI founder Imran Khan and to launch a crackdown on the “most famous political party of the country.”

On May 9, 2023 violent protests erupted across the country after paramilitary Rangers arrested Imran Khan from the premises of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on the order of the country’s top graft buster.

During these protests, alleged PTI workers and supporters vandalized and set fire to state and army properties and memorials.

Omar Ayub criticized the military establishment, using the metaphor of "khalai makhlooq"—aliens—to depict their alleged interference in politics. “Other countries are sending probes to other planets in search of aliens but in Pakistan the khalai makhloq roam streets on dalas (four-door trucks),” he said.

In response, Minister for Defence Khawaja Asif supported the suggestion to hold trials for those involved in subverting the Constitution under Article 6, starting with Field Marshal Ayub Khan.

“Ayub Khan was the first to violate his oath. He toppled a democratic government. He is the root cause of all chaos that we are facing today. Therefore, Article 6 should be invoked; his dead body should be exhumed from the grave and be hanged,” the minister asserted.


Khawaja Asif also criticized former prime minister Imran Khan, branding him the biggest thief in the country’s history and accusing him of using official resources for personal gain.

Read more: Asif holds talks with SCO counterparts

He pointed out that Imran Khan now criticizes the army despite previously “serving military generals for ten years”. Asif further highlighted Imran Khan's absence during assembly sessions while military officials briefed the assembly during PTI's rule.

During Asif’s speech, PTI members protested loudly as lawmakers from both sides exchanged heated words. Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq called for opposition lawmakers to maintain silence during Khawaja Asif’s speech, similar to the behavior of treasury benches during Omar Ayub's address.

The speaker later expunged Omar Ayub's comments on state institutions and adjourned the sitting until 11 am the following day (Tuesday) after Khawaja Asif’s speech concluded.




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