Former Army Officer’s Family Seeks Justice For Son

Former Army Officer’s Family Seeks Justice For Son
The family of a former army officer has requested that the military and judicial authorities ensure justice in the case of Hasan Askree, a civilian who was court-martialed for allegedly writing a critical letter to former army chief General (retired) Qamar Javed Bajwa, Dawn reported on Wednesday.

This was the first time Mr. Askree's family members, including his mother Wasima, sister Zehra, and father, Major General (retired) Syed Zaffar Mehdi Askree, had discussed their ordeal in public, according to a press release issued by them.

They asserted that Hasan had been imprisoned with criminals and terrorists in a high-security facility and had not been moved to Adiala jail despite a court order. They further asserted that he had been unfairly tried in a Field General Court Martial (FGCM) and summarily sentenced without even being informed of the actual charges.

In October 2020, Hasan Askree was taken from his home and placed in military detention. During an FGCM trial, he was found guilty and given a five-year prison term with hard labor, but despite numerous requests, neither he nor his family has ever seen the charges or the judgment.

Hasan Askree was found guilty of allegedly writing a disparaging letter to the former army head.

Major General (retired) Zaffar Askree, the father of Hasan, claimed that he had written more than two dozen letters and pleaded with military leaders for a quick meeting over the past 2.5 years. But as of now, there has been no reaction or communication of any kind, he claimed.

He claimed that his son's reported letters to the former chief of army staff and his senior generals, in which he expressed concern over the potential effects of military choices on Pakistan's political and economic circumstances, were the cause of their experience.

Hasan's father said that the FIR filed against his son did not contain any provisions of the Pakistan Army Act but instead made reference to an offense under Section 131 of the Pakistan Criminal Code (abetting mutiny or attempting to seduce a soldier, sailor, or airman from his duty).

Hasan's family claimed that the court martial of a civilian for allegedly attempting to seduce military officials was a grave injustice that made a mockery of the crime of mutiny and insubordination.

They clarified that the alleged letter did not incite violence or any other negative feelings towards the government; rather, it simply expressed the concerns of a patriotic citizen who had no affiliations with any organizations or political parties.

Despite this, a magistrate sent his son to military custody without giving him a chance to defend himself. He was also kept in solitary confinement for months without a charge or access to legal counsel, and he was only allowed to contact his family after being charged.

Zehra, Hasan's sister, told reporters that neither his lawyer nor family was ever informed of the ruling.

Zehra stressed that due to the severe visiting rules, it was very impossible for her elderly and ill parents to visit Hasan at Sahiwal. She said that her mother required dialysis three times each week due to end-stage renal failure. She claimed that over the previous 2.5 years, her mother's health had drastically declined. She noted that her father was 87 years old and afflicted with numerous diseases and that under such circumstances, traveling 14–15 hours each day for a 30-minute visit was nearly impossible.

Also, she displayed the June 14, 2022, ruling from the Rawalpindi Bench of the Lahore High Court that directed the transfer of Hasan from the High-Security Prison in Sahiwal to the Central Jail in Adiala, Rawalpindi, "within a fortnight."

She said that there had been no compliance even though nine months had passed.