ISLAMABAD: The National Security Committee (NSC) meeting chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday expressed solidarity with the armed forces and vowed to take strict action against those involved in the May 9 violent protests.
Addressing the NSC huddle, the premier said, “Those who planned, executed and abetted the vandalism on May 9 certainly committed an act of terrorism.”
Referring to the violent protests and attacks on the General Headquarters, Lahore Corps Commander House (or Jinnah House) and other military installations following the arrest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan in a corruption case also involving a property tycoon, the PM said. “Whatever happened on May 9 will be remembered as Black Day in the history of Pakistan.”
He added that what was the ideology and the person who ignited the love for the country. “The person who lives in this house [Jinnah House] protects Pakistan.”
Expressing deep grief over the arson attack on Jinnah House, the premier said: “I have never seen such a situation before.”
The premier went on to say that planners and abettors of the violent incidents of 9th May will be brought to justice. The culprits should be taken to task to set an example so that no one can dare repeat such incidents in the future.
PM Shehbaz, who is also the president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), said he has directed that innocent people should not be touched but the culprits involved in these heinous crimes should not be spared even if the chief executive of the country seeks any leniency for them.
He said that these acts of vandalism are no less than terrorism, which have brought shame to the entire nation. Without taking the name of the PTI, the prime minister said goons of a political party attacked military installations, including the GHQ in Rawalpindi, FC Camp in Quetta, and other public property. He said these people inflicted harmed the country that “our enemy even could not think of in the last 75 years”.
The PM also vowed that the criminals, who burnt and tarnished government properties, damaged the relics of the armed forces and marched on the office of ISI in Faisalabad would not be spared.
He further said that today’s huddle expressed that the entire nation is standing behind their armed forces.
The meeting was attended by provincial chief ministers, federal ministers, the services chiefs and other high officials.
It is pertinent to mention here that the prime minister convened the NSC meeting — the apex national body that oversees security matters — to review the law and order situation in the country.
The session was also given a briefing on the May 9 violent protests that erupted after the arrest of the deposed prime minister who was removed from the office via a vote of no-confidence in April last year.
The former prime minister has been accused of £190 million in corruption in the Al-Qadir Trust case.
He was taken into custody by the paramilitary troops from the Islamabad High Court (IHC) premises, sparking protests across Pakistan by the enraged PTI supporters.
They stormed military establishments, set ablaze a Radio Pakistan building in Peshawar, smashed buses, ransacked Corps Commander House in Lahore and attacked other assets, resulting in the army being deployed in multiple cities.
More than 3,000 arrests were made, while 152 police officers were injured, 74 police vehicles vandalised and set on fire, and 22 government buildings, including police stations and offices, were damaged, according to Punjab police.
At least 10 people were killed in the violence, a spasm of unrest in a country that is facing an economic crisis, with record inflation, anaemic growth and delayed IMF funding.
The army has taken strict notice of the ransacking of its assets and vowed to bring all those involved in May 9 violence to justice.
On Saturday, PM Shahbaz gave authorities 72 hours to identify and arrest all those involved in violent acts.
The premier said the cases would be tried by anti-terrorism courts.
“All available resources including technological aid and intelligence are being deployed to chase down these elements. Bringing these people to justice is a test case for the government,” said the prime minister.