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

Jun 27, 2023, 8:11 AM

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.

United States News

Associated Press

Jurors in Trump’s hush money trial zero in on testimony of key witnesses as deliberations resume

NEW YORK (AP) — The jury in Donald Trump’s hush money trial is to resume deliberations Thursday after asking to rehear potentially crucial testimony about the alleged hush money scheme at the heart of the history-making case. The 12-person jury deliberated for about 4 1/2 hours on Wednesday without reaching a verdict. Besides asking to […]

30 minutes ago


Associated Press

Alito rejects calls to quit Supreme Court cases on Trump and Jan. 6 because of flag controversies

Justice Samuel Alito is rejecting calls to step aside from Supreme Court cases involving former President Donald Trump and Jan. 6 defendants, saying his wife hoisted the two controversial flags that flew above their homes.

2 hours ago


Associated Press

Nissan warns owners of older vehicles about risk of exploding air bag inflators

Nissan is urging the owners of about 84,000 older vehicles to stop driving them because their Takata air bag inflators have an increased risk of exploding in a crash and hurling dangerous metal fragments.

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Seattle police chief dismissed from top job amid discrimination, harassment lawsuits

SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle’s embattled police chief has been dismissed, Mayor Bruce Harrel said Wednesday. Harrell said at a news conference that he met with Police Chief Adrian Diaz on Tuesday and they agreed Diaz should step down. He will work on special assignments for the mayor with the police department, Harrell said. Diaz’s departure […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Disneyland performers’ vote to unionize is certified by federal labor officials

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Character and parade performers at Disneyland in California are officially unionized. Federal labor officials said Wednesday that they’ve certified the results of a three-day election that took place earlier this month in Anaheim. Actors’ Equity Association will represent roughly 1,700 performers and assistants who help bring Disney’s popular characters to life […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Michigan willing to spend millions to restore Flint properties ripped up by pipe replacement

DETROIT (AP) — The state of Michigan said it’s willing to step in and oversee property repairs at 1,900 homes in Flint where water pipes have been inspected or replaced but the grounds remain a mess. The city in March was found in civil contempt by a judge after blowing past deadlines to get the […]

5 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.


Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

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