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ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to mark May 9 as “black day” on Thursday (today) in commemoration of the first “anniversary” of the violence against military installations throughout the country.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and the cabinet have scheduled an event in Jinnah Convention Center Islamabad to pay a fitting homage to military martyrs and their families on Thursday.

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), Pakistani police arrested more than 4,000 people in the wake of May 9 protests, including senior leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf.

Army again rejects PTI’s May 9 narrative

On 9 April 2024, Attorney General of Pakistan submitted a report to the Supreme Court revealing the release of 20 people sentenced to one year of imprisonment by the military court but granted a relaxation in their sentence by Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Asim Munir; with the army keeping 103 accused in custody till date including 33 army personnel.

PILDAT January 2024 report stated that following the May 9 attacks, law enforcement agencies (LEAs) rounded-up and arrested key PTI leaders alongside PTI workers and others who posted live videos of the attacks on social media and criminal cases were registered against them.

The report further contended that those PTI leaders who announced their resignation from their respective party posts in a televised press conference and expressed their respect for the Pakistan Army while condemning May 9 violence were no longer actively pursued by law enforcement.

However, despite the passage of over 6 months, PILDAT noted that no accused has been convicted in relation to 9 May violence, adding that one reason behind this appears to be the final verdict on the validity of holding trials of civilians in military courts is pending in the apex court.

According to a list shared by PTI with Business Recorder, there are a total of 52 party leaders and workers - 33 male and 19 female-who are currently incarcerated.

Overall, more than 10,000 party members were arrested post-May 9, and illegally detained under fake cases, the PTI further maintained.

On 9th May 2023, protesters stormed the gate of the Army’s General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi, attacked and burnt the Lahore Corps Commander’s house, attacked Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology Rawalpindi, targeted an Army convoy on the Mall Road, Lahore and set police vehicles and security posts on fire at several places. Monuments of martyrs were attacked, vandalized and in some locations desecrated.

Protesters blocked roads in various cities including Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Faisalabad, Multan, and Quetta on that ill-fated day.

In Karachi, hundreds of PTI workers took to the streets on 9th May last year and set fire to several vehicles, including police vans, and burnt down security check posts. The police fired tear gas shells and beat the protesters with batons.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), PTI workers blocked the Grand Trunk Road in Peshawar and protests turned violent with the torching of a replica of the Chaghi Mountain – the mountain under which Pakistan tested its nuclear bomb on 28th May 1998, damaging of the Provincial Assembly building and Radio Pakistan Peshawar while Scouts Fort in Chakkdara, Lower Dir, was set on fire by the mob.

Violent protests and some clashes between police and PTI workers were also witnessed in Quetta and Gilgit-Baltistan.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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