Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif interacts with the families of martyrs at an event on Thursday.—APP
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif interacts with the families of martyrs at an event on Thursday.—APP

• Shehbaz insists protests aimed at ending democracy, establishing dictatorship, burying Constitution
• Army chief rules out compromise with planners and architects; labels incident a ‘dark chapter in history’
• Says those used as ‘cannon fodder’ given benefit of doubt, but leaders will be held accountable
• Notes inimical forces unleashed ‘digital terrorism’, creating division between armed forces and citizens

ISLAMABAD: The state came down hard on the perpetrators of last year’s May 9 violent protests, with the prime minister calling the riots a “rebellion against Pakistan”, and the army chief ruling out any compromise or deal with the “planners and architects”.

Their remarks on separate occasions came on the first anniversary of nationwide protests that erupted after the arrest of former premier Imran Khan in a corruption case. The state then launched a severe crackdown on his party, rounding up thousands of PTI workers and almost the entire top-tier leadership, with many still facing court proceedings under serious charges.

“The real aim of May 9 [incidents] was to end democracy in Pakistan and, God forbid, bury the Constitution, and a nefarious goal of establishing kingship and dictatorship of an individual,” Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said while addressing a special meeting of the federal cabinet at Parliament House.

“The impure plan of May 9 was not just a rebellion against Pakistan but against the state, the Pakistan Army and army chief Gen Asim Munir,” he said.

PM Shehbaz said the aim of convening the meeting at Parliament House was to send a message to the nation that “not only will we remember our martyrs and their families till the day of judgement but also to give a message of unity with them”.

He said the May 9 attacks were carried out to undermine the PDM government’s efforts to stabilise the economy, impede normalisation of strained ties with friendly countries, and cover up the foreign funding, Toshakhana, and the 190 million pound corruption scams, and ensure the appointments on key posts without merit.

Exemplifying the riots in the UK and USA, the prime minister said no country could tolerate such heinous crimes against the state institutions.

During the meeting, Minister for Law and Justice Azam Nazeer Tarar presented before the cabinet a report of a committee formed by the caretaker government under the caretaker law minister Ahmed Irfan on the May 9 incident, which clearly held the PTI leadership responsible for the riots.

Later, addressing the families of martyrs in a function organised by the Ministry of Information, Prime Minister Sharif said: “There is no reprieve for the culprits of the May 9 incidents. I assure you that the law will take its due course and that no such incident will recur in the country.”

He said that the perpetrators of the treasonous act, who attempted to create a gulf between the state institutions and the nation, would ultimately face the consequences. “Such elements must get exemplary punishment so that they should not dare indulge in such a heinous activity in future,” he added.

Meanwhile, Infor­mation Minister Attaullah Tarar on Thursday reque­sted the judiciary to take the May 9 cases to a logical end. He said evidence in these cases was clear and the identity of the attackers was known. Even it was clear who entered inside various buildings and who stood outside and gave instructions, he said.

‘Dark chapter’

Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Asim Munir ruled out any compromise or deal with the “planners and architects” of May 9 riots, calling the incident a “dark chapter in our history”.

He made the remarks during his visit to Lahore Garrison, where he laid a wreath at the Martyrs’ Monument and paid tribute to those who sacrificed their lives for the motherland.

Addressing the officers and soldiers at the Corps Headquarters, he lauded the troops for their services to the nation and appreciated their professionalism.

According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the COAS said that May 9 would “undoubtedly remain a black day in the history of Pakistan when deliberately indoctrinated and insidiously guided miscreants attacked the symbols of the state and national unity, disgracefully desecrating the martyrs’ monuments”.

He said there could be “no compromise or deal with the planners and architects of this dark chapter in our history”, explaining that the reason for this was the mindset of the incident’s schemers, who were now “brazenly and shamelessly trying to twist the narrative and implicate the state in this despicable endeavour”.

Gen Munir said that the country’s enemies were given the chance to mock the state and its people due to the “deplorable acts of criminally orchestrated violence” on the day.

He said that those “gullible elements” who did not understand the real motive behind this “criminal enterprise” and were used as “cannon fodder” for the political ambitions of the masterminds have already been accorded reasonable benefit of the doubt on the direction of Supreme Court.

“However, the real leaders who present themselves as victims now will be held accountable for their actions, particularly when there is irrefutable evidence of their involvement and complicity in organised violence and sabotage,” he said.

“Planners, abettors, facilitators and culprits of May 9 will be brought to justice according to the law of the land and our patience not to respond to daily provocations in this regard made in brazen violation of the constitution has limits and it must never be misconstrued as weakness,” he said.

COAS Munir lauded troops for their “services to nation and appreciated their professionalism”, underscoring that inimical forces and their abettors had “unleashed digital terrorism and are trying hard to create division between armed forces and people of Pakistan through peddling lies, fake news and propaganda”.

ISPR calls it ‘Black day’

Meanwhile, the military’s media affairs wing emphasised that bringing the “real culprits of May 9 [riots] to justice” was paramount to ensure no future desecration of the memories of the country’s heroes.

“Bringing the real culprits of May 9 to justice is paramount to ensure that in future, no one dares to desecrate the memories of our heroes and the symbols of our unity through such unwarranted conduct in future,” the ISPR said.

The armed forces, along with the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) and services’ chiefs, strongly condemned the “criminal acts” perpetrated on May 9 last year, terming the day as a “Black Day”.

Published in Dawn, May 10th, 2024

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