The National Assembly on Monday passed a resolution condemning the “shameless incidents” of May 9, expressing solidarity with the armed forces, and supporting the civil-military leadership’s decision to try rioters under all relevant laws of the country, including the Pakistan Army Act.
Tabled by Defense Minister Khawaja Asif, the resolution said the Lower House of Parliament “vehemently condemned the shocking, brazen, heart-wrenching and shameless incidents which took place in certain parts of the country on the May 9, 2023.” Expressing the house’s full faith in, and complete solidarity and support for, the armed forces, it reiterated that May 9 would be observed as a ‘Black Day’ to register protest against the attacks on military installations and buildings, including the ransacking and setting on fire of the Lahore Corps Commanders’ house.
The three days of riots triggered by the arrest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan in a corruption case left at least eight people dead—though the party claims 25 people were killed—and dozens more injured. Following the riots, thousands of PTI leaders and workers were arrested, with both a special Corps Commanders’ Conference and a meeting of the National Security Committee vowing to prosecute the culprits under all relevant laws, including the Pakistan Army Act and the Official Secrets Act.
During Monday’s parliamentary proceedings, legislators demanded that all abettors, planners, facilitators and rioters should be prosecuted under the existing laws of the country, including the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997; Army Act 1952; and the Pakistan Penal Code 1860. The resolution also urged all relevant authorities to implement social media rules and regulations to counter misinformation and propaganda against the country’s institutions from both within and outside of Pakistan. “Those involved in such propaganda campaigns should strictly be dealt with as per law,” it added.
Reiterating a commitment to national unity, harmony and integrity in the wake of the current geostrategic situation, the resolution condemned anti-state elements attempting to destabilize the country. It also called for the resolution of all political issues through parliamentary and democratic norms, adding that resorting to violence against state institutions, public and private properties was “totally unacceptable.”
In an address on the floor of the House, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif vowed that no leniency would be shown to anyone involved in the attacks on military installations during the May 9 riots, as the country could not survive if the perpetrators were not punished. “We don’t have any personal vendetta. But those who desecrated the martyrs, ghazis, and their monuments, and burnt the Jinnah House … they will have to be tried under the law. And if any leniency is shown to them, the country will not survive,” he said, clarifying that attacks on civilian infrastructure would be tried under the Anti-Terrorism Act, while those on military installations would be tried by military courts.
Reading out a tweet posted by the PTI chief in which he had denied removing incumbent Army chief Gen. Asim Munir from the post of director-general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for pointing out corruption being allegedly committed by his wife, Bushra Bibi, Sharif said this was a “blatant lie.” Claiming he “knew” that Khan had transferred Gen. Munir solely because he pointed out alleged corruption of his family members, he said this had been validated by NAB arrested the PTI chief on corruption charges earlier this month.
Referring to a recently leaked audio call between Khan and a U.S. congresswoman, the prime minister lamented that the PTI chief had spent a year undermining Pak-U.S. ties through allegations of a “regime change conspiracy,” but was now begging the same country for help.
While the majority of the house supported using military courts to prosecute attackers, independent MNA Ali Wazir lamented that only PTI workers would suffer while those who had incited the crowds would use their connections with Army generals and other influential personalities to escape without any repercussions.