Shehbaz wants ‘PTI arsonists’ in jail within 72 hours

Published May 14, 2023
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif visits Jinnah House which was set on fire by a violent mob in Lahore, on Saturday.—INP
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif visits Jinnah House which was set on fire by a violent mob in Lahore, on Saturday.—INP

• Prime minister accuses Imran of ‘planning, instigating violence’
• Orders trial of cases in anti-terrorism courts, vows to make it a ‘test case for govt’
• Punjab govt sets up JIT to probe attacks

LAHORE: Setting a deadline of 72 hours for the arrest of culprits involved in violence that erupted after PTI chief was pick­ed up, Prime Minister Sheh­baz Sharif on Saturday said “it is time to do or die or now or never”.

The prime minister while blaming the PTI chief and his followers for arson and violent attacks said, “The real culprits who showed this kind of enmity against the motherland should be arrested and produced in anti-terrorism courts under the relevant laws. These elements should be arrested immediately, without fear or favour”.

In a related development, the caretaker Punjab government constituted a joint investigation team (JIT) to probe the torching of the corps commander’s official residence, also known as Jinnah House.

PM Shehbaz visited the Punjab Safe Cities Authority and the corps commander’s house to take stock of the situation four days after protesters went on the rampage following the arrest of Imran Khan.

In a tweet, the PM said that all those involved in facilitating, abetting and perpetrating the disgraceful incidents of arson, ransacking, sabotage and damaging public and private properties will be arrested.

Mr Sharif said all available technical and intelligence resources were being deployed to chase down these arsonists, as he vowed to make it a “test case for the government”.

“The cases of vandalism will be tried by anti-terrorism courts,” the premier said, adding that the law minister had been instructed to increase the number of such courts for the purpose.

He alleged that PTI Chairman Imran Khan and his “armed followers” acted like the enemies of Pakistan.

The prime minister said the whole nation, except Mr Khan and his armed followers were “in an utter state of grief over the painful incidents”.

“It is now or never,” said the prime minister who vowed to show no mercy towards the attackers who “showed enmity against the motherland”.

‘Barbaric act’

During his visit to Jinnah House, the PM held Mr Khan responsible for the “barbaric act of torching the corps commander residence”.

Talking to the media after his visit, he claimed Mr Khan planned and instigated the attack“.

He reiterated his pledge to arrest all the culprits who “neither cared about the historical significance of the building nor of the fact that an army officer and his family were living there”.

“The building was inhabited by the son of the land who was on duty to protect the motherland,” PM Sharif remarked.

He said this was a barbaric attack “on the sons of the soil who are eradicating terrorism from the country”.

“They have protected the motherland with their blood while leaving behind bereaved families,” the PM said, adding that “PTI rioters defiled the martyrs” and attacked their monuments.

The prime minister also visited the Combined Military Hospital and Services Hospital in Lahore. He met with the injured police officers, including Lahore DIG Operations Ali Nasir Rizvi, who came face to face with protesters on May 9.

The PM also censured his nemesis on social media, taking exception to Mr Khan’s statement accusing the army chief of orchestrating his arrest, APP reported.

He said the PTI chairman’s statement about the army chief was “a reflection of his diseased and obsessive mindset”.

He continued that as the ISI head Gen Asim Munir had “unearthed a corruption syndicate of [Mr Khan]”.

“That’s why he had been maligning the chief of army staff (COAS) from day one,” he tweeted.

“The desecration of the martyrs’ monuments and attack on the national installations represent an unimaginable low in our politics.”

The JIT

The Punjab government formed a JIT to probe the attack on Jinnah House and vandalising of other military and civil installations in the province, according to a statement.

This was announced on Saturday following a meeting, chaired by Punjab CM Naqvi, to review the law and order situation.

While the government has formed a probe team, it has yet to order an investigation into how the protesters managed to reach the corps commander’s house, located inside the fortified Lahore Cantonment. Moreover, no blame has yet been pinned on police and other officials for not resisting the protesters’ rampage.

Later in a tweet, Mr Naqvi said: “Anyone giving statements against Pakistan Army and its Generals is Enemy of the state. We shall not surrender to any anti-state propaganda.”

Published in Dawn, May 14th, 2023

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