ISLAMABAD – Pakistan’s military has fired three senior officers, including a lieutenant general, for failing to avert last month’s violent attacks on military assets by supporters of former Prime Minister Imran Khan in protest of his arrest, the army spokesman said Monday.
It was a rare announcement, as the military usually does not make public announcements about internal investigations and their findings.
At least 102 people are currently being tried in military courts in connection with the violence, Major General Ahmad Sharif Chaudhry told a news conference in the garrison town of Rawalpindi.
He gave no details on how many of them were civilians or military officials. He also declined to name the senior officers who had been fired.
Human rights groups have expressed concern about the military trials of civilians, which they say cannot guarantee a fair defence. They have also been challenged in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
In May, thousands of Khan’s supporters rampaged through and destroyed military installations across the country, including an air base, several military garrisons, a general’s home and army headquarters.
More than 5,000 of them were arrested, although most were later released.
“We had to determine why security had been breached at military installations,” Major General Chaudhry said. “We had to find out what went wrong.”
He said two departmental inquiries were conducted, led by major generals, and punishments were imposed according to their recommendations.
Strict departmental action has also been taken against a further 15 army officers, including major generals and brigadier generals, Major General Chaudhry said, as part of the army’s internal accountability.
He did not say what measures have been taken.
Major General Chaudhry added that several relatives, including wives, of senior army officers are also being tried for allegedly contributing to the violence.
The army has said the arson attack was pre-planned by Khan’s party leaders and has cited him as complicit in the violence in at least two criminal cases.
The 70-year-old Khan, a cricket hero turned politician, has faced a slew of affairs since he was removed from power last year by a vote of no confidence, which he blames on army generals, a charge that the military denies.
Khan’s party has been massively repressed since the May 9 violence. REUTERS