Pakistan’s military denied allegations of human rights abuses on Wednesday after former prime minister Imran Khan said that he and his supporters were being subjected to torture as part of a crackdown.
A year-long standoff between Mr Khan, who polls as the country’s most popular leader, and the powerful army came to a head when military assets were attacked last month following his brief arrest.
The government blamed the former premier’s supporters but Mr Khan denied the accusation.
A statement released by the army did not directly reference Mr Khan or his party, but mentioned the violent protests. Mr Khan also faces charges of instigating the protests.
The military has begun the process of trying in military courts those suspected of involvement in the protests. Mr Khan has claimed that his aides and supporters are being pressured by the military to leave his party.
The army statement said that a meeting of its entire top brass – called the Formation Commanders Conference – had described as “baseless” any accusations of human rights abuses or the stifling of political activities.
The meeting, chaired by army chief Gen Asim Munir, was held at the army headquarters in Rawalpindi.
In its English-language statement it said there were “irrefutable evidences” against those now on trial and said it would also move against the “planners and masterminds” of what it called the “politically driven rebellion against the state”.
Mr Khan denies that his supporters were part of the violence and termed them a “false flag operation” to crush him and his party after he challenged the traditional power of the military.
Nuclear-armed Pakistan has been unsettled since Mr Khan was ousted from office as prime minister in 2022 and launched street protests for fresh elections. He blames the military for his ouster, which it denies.
A full-blown economic crisis, with runaway inflation, a plunge in the currency and the possibility of a debt default, has added to the turmoil. – Reuters
(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2023