Home Latest News Those Involved in May 9 Riots Must be Punished as per Constitution, Law: DG ISPR

Those Involved in May 9 Riots Must be Punished as per Constitution, Law: DG ISPR

Maj. Gen. Ahmed Sharif says there is ‘irrefutable’ evidence of TTP militants using Afghan soil to launch attacks against Pakistan

by Staff Report

File photo of ISPR DG Maj. Gen. Ahmed Sharif Chaudhry

Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director-General Maj. Gen. Ahmed Sharif Chaudhry on Tuesday said punishing all perpetrators and facilitators of the May 9 riots as per the Constitution and law is necessary to preserve the credibility of the country’s judicial system.

“The issue of the May 9 riots is not limited to the Pakistan Army and concerns the whole nation,” he told journalists during a press conference in Rawalpindi. Recalling the events of May 9, 2023, he said the rioters had attacked the Army, insulted the symbols of its martyrs, set the house of founder [Mohammad Ali Jinnah] on fire, and fostered hatred between the armed forces and the public. “If the people behind it are not brought to justice, then there is a question mark on that country’s justice system,” he said.

“We believe that if we have to maintain trust in the justice system of Pakistan, then May 9 perpetrators—the doers and those commanding them—must be sentenced according to the Constitution and the law,” he said. “Nothing is hidden about May 9. The public and the Army and we all have irrefutable evidence. All of us saw this incident unfolding, we all saw how everyone was [brainwashed] against the Army, its leadership, agencies, institutions through lies and propaganda,” he said, adding “some political leaders” had ordered their supporters to target military installations.

“When this became public, another lie and propaganda was created that this was a ‘false flag operation’ and ‘we do not know what happened or who did it’,” he said. “For such people, it is said: ’you can fool all the people some of the times, some of the people all the times but you cannot fool all the people all the times’.”

He said no country in the world permitted such anarchism, recalling the London riots of August 2011 had seen penalties for all perpetrators, including children. Similarly, he said, the Capitol Hill riots in the U.S. had also not required any judicial commission, nor had the Paris riots of June 2023. “I have given the examples of countries our elite do not get tired of quoting,” he said, adding punishments are awarded to serve as deterrence and prevent such elements from attacking “the state whenever they want.”

He also addressed questions on a PTI leader’s allegation of the Saudi leadership’s complicity in the ouster of Imran Khan, saying such elements routinely tried to damage Pakistan’s national interest. “You can recall they also tried to damage Pakistan’s [bailout] with the IMF,” he said, adding such people believed if they were not in power then the country should not be allowed to function.

To a question on the potential for dialogue with the PTI, the military spokesman said the armed forces would not hold any talks with “any political leader, or group which attacks its own Army and indulges in propaganda” against them. “There can be no dialogue with an anarchist group,” he said, adding a potential way forward was for the “anarchists” to “sincerely” apologize for their illegal acts, and vow to abandon politics of hate and adopt productive political views. “Talks are for political parties, not institutions,” he said. In recent weeks, the PTI leadership has repeatedly asserted it is only willing to indulge in dialogue with the security establishment, dismissing calls for engagement with its political opponents by maintaining the incumbent government is comprised of “puppets.”

To another question on the PTI’s calls for a judicial commission to probe the events of May 9, he said such commissions were required when there was confusion about the true culprits of an offense. However, he added, the Army had no issue with such a commission, but it should then examine the entire history of the party. “The judicial commission should also examine the purpose of the 2014 dharna” as well as the attack on the PTV office in Islamabad, letters to the IMF, attack on Parliament and unrest in Islamabad, he said.

He also rejected rumors spread by PTI leaders of Pakistan providing airbases to the U.S., saying the country had not given such facilities to any country. To a question, he dismissed the notion that votes for PTI in Feb. 8 general elections were a “defense” of the May 9 riots, maintaining in terms of the overall population, the party had received backing of less than 8 percent of the people. He said parties accusing the Army of facilitating rigging the elections should come forward with proof if they have any.

On the ban on X, formerly Twitter, in Pakistan, he said such social media platforms were being used to spread disinformation and lies about state institutions. However, he said, the briefing was not an appropriate forum to address restoring access to the platform.

Security briefing

In his briefing prior to a Q&A with journalists, Maj. Gen. Chaudhry said there was “irrefutable evidence” of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) using Afghanistan to stage attacks against Pakistan. “Recent terrorist incidents can be traced back to Afghanistan,” he said, pointing to a suicide bombing in the Besham tehsil of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in March that killed five Chinese engineers. Such attacks, he said, were aimed at damaging Pakistan’s ties with China and would not be allowed to succeed.

“A sad incident took place on March 2 in Besham where a suicide bomber targeted a car of Chinese engineers working on Dasu dam, as a result of which, five Chinese citizens and a Pakistan got killed,” he recalled. “This suicide bombing also connects to across the border; the planning of this terrorism was done in Afghanistan. Terrorists and their facilitators were also being controlled from Afghanistan and the suicide bomber was also an Afghan,” he said.

Emphasizing the Army strongly condemned “this ugly game of terrorism” and was “taking all necessary actions to bring its facilitators to justice,” he regretted Pakistan’s soldiers and law enforcement personnel were martyred in large numbers during the war on terrorism. “Everyone knows that Pakistan tried its best for peace in region and especially in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s role has been the most vital for peace in the region,” he maintained.

He said Pakistan had hosted Afghan refugees for decades, and had also helped the Afghan Taliban in their negotiations with the U.S., recalling that one of the pledges the interim government made during the Doha talks was not to let Afghan soil be used for any terror acts. “But there is concrete evidence that TTP terrorists are still using Afghan soil to launch attacks in Pakistan,” he said, noting the Foreign Office had officially registered 12 protests and Army chief Gen. Asim Munir had made clear Pakistan’s reservations over hideouts of banned outfits in Afghanistan.

“Pakistan will leave no stone unturned to eradicate terror networks and provide protection to its citizens at all costs,” he said, emphasizing that the purpose of the armed forces was “to establish peace in the country.” To ensure this, he said, the military would go to any extent “to suppress the terrorists and their patrons and enablers.” He said it was unfortunate that such terrorists and their enablers were attempting to “worsen” the law and order situation in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

He noted that the Army had retaliated against previous TTP assaults, referring to March when Pakistan carried out attacks in Afghanistan’s border areas and targeted safe havens of terrorists, killing eight terrorists involved in numerous terror acts in Pakistan. Playing a confessional video, he said one of the TTP terrorists captured in Balochistan had admitted to committing terrorism in Pakistan.

On the government’s ongoing drive to repatriate illegal Afghans back to their own country, he said the government made the decision in the larger benefit of the country. “There was [added] burden on the country’s economy, while the law and order situation in the country was also deteriorating. In no country of the world, are illegal immigrants allowed to roam freely,” he said, adding 563,639 illegal Afghans had returned to their homeland thus far. “However, hundreds of thousands are still living in Pakistan,” he said.

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