ISLAMABAD: Continuing their attack on the PTI over the incidents of May 9, lawmakers on Tuesday called for exemplary punishment to those who attacked military installations and public properties during the protests in the aftermath of the arrest of PTI chief Imran Khan, as the members belonging to the smaller provinces expressed their serious reservations over the perceived preferential treatment that the former prime minister was getting from the state institutions.
Speaking on points of order on a private member’s day in the National Assembly, the members in their one-sided speeches termed Imran Khan “the mastermind” of the violent protests on May 9 and alleged that he was still getting support from the “serving and retired people” within the state institutions.
Touching the country’s fault lines, independent MNA from Gwadar Aslam Bhootani and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) MNA from Hyderabad Salahuddin said the preferential treatment being given out to Imran Khan, who belonged to the Punjab province, was sending a wrong message to the people of the smaller provinces.
“Had the May 9 incidents taken place in Balochistan or Sindh, thousands of the people would have become victims of the bullets manufactured by POF [Pakistan Ordnance Factories, Wah],” said Mr Bhootani who was the first speaker of the day.
Term former prime minister ‘mastermind’ of May 9 incidents; call for probe into Malik Riaz’s role in Al-Qadir case
“There are feelings among the people of smaller provinces that since the attackers were own people, the security institutions belonged to the same people and judges also belonged to the same territory, they [PTI people] are getting bails in wholesale,” said Mr Bhootani who termed May 9 as a black day in the country’s history.
He asked the government to award exemplary punishment to all those involved in the May 9 incidents to send a message to the people of the smaller provinces that they all belonged to one Pakistan and there was no discrimination among them.
The MNA from Gwadar also expressed his surprise over the failure of the military authorities in preventing the protesters from attacking the Lahore corps commander’s residence, known as Jinnah House.
Mr Bhootani also called for probing the reports that the Lahore corps commander was a “fan of Mr Khan”, adding that he hoped that Army Chief Gen Asim Munir would be investigating the matter.
“Jinnah House kept on burning for three hours and its resident could not save it. How a person who could not save his own house would save us. He should be punished. I don’t know where is he [the Lahore corps commander]. Had he got martyred while offering resistance, the whole parliament would have been saluting him today,” he went on saying.
Referring to the Al-Qadir Trust case against the PTI chairman, the MNA from Balochistan said reportedly Mr Khan had received kickback from Malik Riaz, but surprisingly no one was questioning the property tycoon, who was the main “culprit”.
He was of the view that if Malik Riaz was not arrested then there would be no outcome of the case against Mr Khan.
Mr Bhootani said it seemed that Malik Riaz was more powerful than NAB, the establishment and even the media.
Similar views were also expressed by PTI dissident Javeria Zafar who also questioned the role of media, stating that no media had the courage to air the name of the property tycoon.
MQM’s Salahuddin regretted the way Mr Khan was provided security and protocol at the time of his appearance before the Islamabad High Court. He said it seemed that Mr Khan was still a ladla [blue eyed] of “some retired and in-service people, the judges and even Washington”.
He alleged that Mr Khan was being facilitated because he possessed a domicile of Punjab. “The people of Balochistan and Karachi have no such facility,” he said, recalling how the MQM people were treated like war criminals and presented before courts blindfolded only because they were listening to the speech of MQM founder Altaf Hussain who was sitting in London on Aug 22, 2016. Lone Jamaat-i-Islami MNA Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali said his party stood by the armed forces, but opposed the decision to try civilians through military courts.
The National Assembly will meet on Wednesday (today) at 1pm.
Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2023