• Almost all suspects traced, 60pc arrested, cabinet told
• Those tried under Army Act can lodge appeals in higher courts
• Retired major general appointed PTA member
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday said there would be no mercy for those behind the May 9 riots and “they will have to face justice”.
Meanwhile, the federal cabinet was informed that 95 per cent of the suspected arsonists had been traced, whereas 60pc had been arrested.
Speaking at an event held in Islamabad to pay tribute to the country’s martyrs, the prime minister vowed to bring the elements behind the arson and vandalism attacks to justice and reiterated that the nation would not let such “barbaric incidents” happen in future.
He was referring to the countrywide violent protests that erupted earlier this month after PTI chief Imran Khan was arrested on corruption charges. Party workers and supporters ransacked public and private property, torched vehicles, and set the Lahore corps commander’s residence on fire.
The premier said that as the country’s chief executive, it was his responsibility to ensure that legal proceedings were conducted under the law and Constitution against all those who had planned, abetted and executed attacks on different civilian and military installations across the country.
The convention was attended by several families of martyrs, governors, lawmakers, federal and provincial ministers, ambassadors, legislators, civil society members, ulema and senior officials.
Mr Sharif said the May 9 violence was intolerable and unpardonable, as the monuments and statues of martyrs of armed forces and law enforcement agencies were vandalised.
“We will not let it happen again and will keep the national flag high. We will not allow anyone to malign our armed forces,” he said, adding that all perpetrators would be brought to justice.
He said the law would take its course and the rioters would not be given any concession because they “crossed the red line”.
Earlier, the federal cabinet was given a briefing on May 9 violent protests and video footage was also shown on the occasion.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, the meeting was informed that those who destroyed public and private properties and vandalised martyrs’ statues and monuments would be penalised under the Pakistan Penal Code and the Anti-Terrorism Act.
However, those who attacked military installations would be tried under the Army Act, though they would have a right of appeal in a higher court.
The cabinet also vowed to implement the decision made in a recent National Security Committee meeting.
The prime minister directed authorities to speed up the arrests of May 9 rioters while ensuring that no action would be taken against innocent citizens.
The cabinet also discussed the Road to Makkah project, which was signed between Islamabad and Riyadh earlier this month to facilitate Pakistani Haj and Umrah pilgrims.
The cabinet also approved the appointment of Hafeezur Rehman, a retired major general, as the member (administration) of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.
Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2023