• PM to chair special cabinet meeting today, to address event at Jinnah Convention Centre
• PTI plans rallies across country, claims police rounding up supporters to scuttle protests

ISLAMABAD: As it aims to mark the first anniversary of the May 9 violence which targeted military installations and monuments of martyrs, the government has decided to commemorate the day in solidarity with martyrs and their families.

On the other hand, opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, which was at the receiving end after the May riots, has planned to organise gatherings across the country to express solidarity with its incarcerated leader Imran Khan, whose brief arrest on the fateful day triggered countrywide violence.

The government is observing the day with the slogan “May 9, never again”.

In order to counter PTI’s protests, authorities in Islamabad and Punjab have already imposed Section 144.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will chair a special meeting of the federal cabinet while the information ministry will organise a special function — to be addressed by the premier — at the Jinnah Convention Centre in which people from all walks of life have been asked to join the premier and his ministers “to pay befitting homage to our glorious martyrs and their families”.

In the lead-up to the May 9 anniversary, electronic media continue to broadcast advertisements recalling violent protests, mobs clashing with the police, attacking and entering the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi and vandalising the Lahore corps commander’s residence.

Meanwhile, President Asif Ali Zardari said in a statement that May 9 will always be remembered as a dark day in Pakistan’s history when a “politically instigated mob ran amok”, damaging public property and military installations.

He affirmed that any attempt to misuse these rights to incite violence would never be tolerated.

“We have never seen such vandalism in responsible democracies, with violent mobs wreaking havoc on state properties for political gains,” he added.

Earlier, addressing a press conference, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Attaullah Tarar said the May 9 tragic incidents were the “biggest conspiracy” orchestrated to disrupt the country’s development and harm its defence and integrity. “Such a tragedy has never ever been witnessed that was aimed to weaken the country,” he added.

“The May 9 events were systematically planned to undermine the country’s defence,” the minister claimed. The minister claimed that in the viral videos, it could be seen how the leadership of the PTI “provoked people” to attack the government and defence installations.

Interestingly, soon after the riots, civil and military leaders last year decided to observe May 9 as “black day” at the national level.

PTI plans protests

As the Islamabad police announced a ban on gatherings in the capital in light of Section 144, PTI spokesperson Raoof Hasan claimed that there was a crackdown on PTI supporters across the country, with dozens arrested in different cities to scuttle their planned protest.

Talking to Dawn, Mr Hasan said police were arresting the workers to stop them from holding rallies and protests. “Section 144 has been already imposed in a number of cities, including Islamabad. We will hold peaceful rallies and there is no plan to hold sit-ins. The state is so much afraid of Imran Khan that it has again changed the prisoner number of Imran Khan,” he said.

According to a circular, signed by PTI Secretary General Omar Ayub Khan, as per the instructions of Imran Khan, the party will hold rallies at every provincial assembly constituency level in the country to mark the day.

Former prime minister Imran Khan’s photo on placards with “Prisoner Number 804” written on them would be prominently displayed during the rallies and prayers for PTI’s “martyrs” would also be organised.

According to the PTI, over 10,000 of its workers were arrested, but the government claimed it arrested only a few thousand people.

The PTI not only challenged the military court cases in the Supreme Court but also alleged that the riots were a false-flag operation designed and carried out by the establishment to dismantle the former ruling party.

Separately, the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam led by Maulana Fazl have decided to mark the day by staging protest rallies and public meetings at various places in the country. JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has announced a public meeting on May 9 in Dera Ismail Khan and said it has nothing to do with the May 9 anniversary. The JUI-F chief said: “Our Million March and Awami Assembly have nothing to do with the May 9 incidents.”

Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

Reforming militants
24 Jul, 2024

Reforming militants

Such initiatives have been tried before, in Swat for instance, at centres run by the military as well as NGOs.
IPP debate
24 Jul, 2024

IPP debate

A FIERCE debate blaming the exorbitant electricity prices on expensive power purchase agreements with IPPs has been...
Political vendettas
24 Jul, 2024

Political vendettas

IT seems that the PML-N and PPP need to be reminded again that they are doing themselves a considerable disservice ...
Security concerns
23 Jul, 2024

Security concerns

All stakeholders want what is best for the country and its people; their differing approaches shouldn’t be viewed with such suspicion all the time.
Frankfurt vandalism
23 Jul, 2024

Frankfurt vandalism

THE state needs to seek serious answers from the German authorities regarding the July 20 mob attack targeting...
Stressed cotton economy
23 Jul, 2024

Stressed cotton economy

DECREASING cotton production should be a worry for the government because of its socioeconomic implications. Early...