LAHORE: Declaring senior PTI leader Dr Yasmin Rashid as the main accused in the Jinnah House arson case, Punjab caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi has alleged the attacks on military installations during the recent protests across the province were planned.
“There is enough evidence to prove that the attack on the Corps Commander’s House and PAF Mianwali airbase were pre-planned as the assailants had been given prior instructions about their respective targets,” Mr Naqvi told senior journalists here on Sunday.
He said there was also a plot to set ablaze the aircraft parked at the Mianwali airbase as the violent PTI activists attacked the same buildings and installations that had been the target of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
“Most of the miscreants were armed…That was an attack on Pakistan,” he said, pledging to take each and every character involved in the assaults to task.
Alleges that PTI arsonists wanted to torch planes at Mianwali airbase
He said the arsonists burnt 108 official vehicles, destroyed the Punjab Safe City Authority cameras and official record as “they were carrying lists of their targets”.
Mr Naqvi said Dr Rashid was the main character in the whole episode of May 9, the day PTI chairman Imran Khan was arrested.
A cancer survivor, Dr Rashid was initially in police custody and detained in the Kot Lakhpat jail. She was later shifted to the Services Hospital after she complained of breathing issues.
Mr Naqvi said that caused by the May 9 “terrorism” financial losses worth Rs6 billion have so far been calculated, and feared an increase in the amount as further estimation of the damage was underway.
He lamented that the “terrorism” was resorted to under the garb of politics, and vowed to take all such cases to their logical conclusion, promising that no innocent person would be apprehended and no one responsible for the terrorism would go scot-free.
“Making a compromise on these terrorism cases will be tantamount to cruelty to Pakistan. Whosoever occupies this chair (CM office) in my place, punishing those responsible for the terrorism will be part of his duty.”
He said a political party held a protest at the Liberty Market in Gulberg and the same political workers resort to terrorism in Cantonment. At least 400 miscreants invaded the Jinnah House and set it ablaze, while approximately 3,400 miscreants were present outside the building.
Leaving aside all official business, full attention was being paid to ensuring arrest of the attackers, he said, adding many of the miscreants had been apprehended and raids were being conducted to nab others.
He said no leniency would be shown to anyone and in the light of solid proof the authorities had inched closer to the plotters of the terrorism incidents.
The chief minister said early trials of all the cases would be ensured and the number of the anti-terrorism courts would be increased, if needed.
Mr Naqvi said that in case of any future attack on government properties, the police would respond with all its force according to law. “Citizens have many complaints about the no-go areas in Zaman Park and the same will be eliminated at an appropriate time,” he added.
In reply to a question, he said that after breaking the PSCA cameras, hard disks were also removed from the cabin (by arsonists), which was also burnt.
He said the Canteen Stores Department (CSD) was also attacked and looted under a “plan”, besides the attacks on Corps Commander’s House, Askari Bank and Askari Tower. Ambulances, fire brigades, Wasa vehicles and trolleys were also burnt, he added.
He said many ATMs, branches of National Bank, Punjab Bank and two metro bus stations in Rawalpindi were burnt, adding that the reconstruction and repairs of these state assets would cost approximately Rs100 million. Besides, he said, arsonists also set ablaze single cabin vehicles of police, prisoners van, motorcycles and buses etc.
He said as political activities were turned into terrorism, the government was filing a complaint with the Election Commission of Pakistan in this regard.
Answering a question, he stated US diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad was no more important and people should not take his tweets seriously. “Zalmay Khalilzad is targeting our military leadership and has no credibility. The federal government should take notice of his interference into Pakistan’s internal affairs.”
Earlier, the journalists were also shown videos of miscreants’ attacks on public and private buildings.
Meanwhile, the Punjab government has decided to form a joint investigation committee to probe into the rioting during protests against the arrest of the PTI chairman.
Published in Dawn, May 15th, 2023