Treat May 9 culprits like Capitol Hill attackers: PM | The Express Tribune


Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday stressed the need for treating the May 9 mayhem culprits in the same manner in which the US punished the people involved in the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.

He also said that the “conspiracy”behind the May 9 violence – triggered in the wake of PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s arrest from the premises of the Islamabad High Court by dozens of Rangers personnel – was hatched abroad.

“There is a blessing in unity and consensus. The situation would have been different if the coalition government had not shown unity over the past one year,” Shehbaz said during a ceremony at the Sindh Governor’s House to lay the foundation stone of the K-IV project meant to provide more water to Karachi.

“[This] unity and consensus of the cabinet foiled the May 9 conspiracy,” he said. He assured the nation that the challenges currently being faced by the country could be overcome if they worked together.

Making a reference to Imran, who was ousted from the position of the premier last year, the prime minister maintained that the person who kept shouting slogans of thieves and robbers had been caught in a corruption case today.

The premier was referring to the ‘Al-Qadir Trust reference’, which had been retitled to the ‘National Crime Agency £190 million scandal’. He said that PTI protesters, on Imran’s instructions, attacked the memorials of martyrs as well as military installations.

“We can’t spare the May 9 rioters come what may. They have not only burned the army installations, but desecrated the monuments of martyrs,” he said. He drew parallels between the attack on the Capitol Hill and arson attack in May.

Read PM Shehbaz arrives in Karachi on day-long trip

The attackers of the Capitol Hill faced exemplary punishment, Shehbaz said, referring to the incident on January 6, 2021 when a mob of supporters of the then outgoing president Donald Trump stormed the Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

The attack disrupted a joint session of Congress convened to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election, which Trump had lost to his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden. Around 80 of the attackers were sentenced to 18 years in jail.

“The strings of the conspiracy [May 9 attacks] are attached in abroad. It was pre-planned and this all was done on solicitation of Imran Niazi,” Shehbaz said. “It was the darkest chapter in the nation’s history”, he added.

While referring to reporters about the controversy over cases to be registered under the Army Act, Prime Minister Shehbaz stressed: “No one has reservations over it. All actions will be taken under the law.”

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Federal Minister Khursheed Shah, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, Governor Kamran Tessori, Federal Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb and others were present at the ceremony.

Addressing the ceremony Bilawal Bhutto Zardari warned against ignoring the May 9 violence, as he underscored the importance of upholding writ of the state and advancing the democratic system in all circumstances.

“If serious crimes like setting fire to Jinnah House, Lahore, demolishing martyrs’ memorials and attacking military installations are neglected, then running this country will become not only difficult, but impossible,” he said.

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He recalled that when the police went to comply with the court notice in March this year, Zaman Park – the residence of Imran – had been turned into a battleground. He also claimed that during the PTI’s long march, participants had weapons on them.

“But the government did not take action,” he said. The prime minister could have banned the PTI on the basis of foreign funding case and Al-Qadir Trust case if he wanted, “but we didn’t want to create an impression of political vendetta and setting a bad precedent”.

In his speech, Bilawal also criticised the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda), calling it the most unpopular entity in the country. He also lamented a slow of work on the K-IV project. “Speed is needed regarding the K-IV project also,” he said.

Referring to the post-flood situation in the country, the PPP chairman said that the rehabilitation work was not progressing at the desired pace. He also sought federal government’s support for the construction project for the victims’ houses.

“We are looking to you, you should form your own team to solve these problems facing Sindh, including Karachi,” he said. “When we all continue to work together, all of Pakistan’s problems can be solved,” he concluded.

The K-IV project will provide 260 million gallons per day (MGD) of water to Karachi in the first phase.  Karachi currently has a demand of 1,200 MGD of water. The city receives about 600 MGD water from the Hub Dam and Keenjhar Lake (Indus River).

Shehbaz arrived in Karachi on a daylong trip. Upon his arrival in the city, the premier was received by Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah. PM Shehbaz later met Sindh Governor Kamran Tessori and received a briefing on the development projects in Sindh.

Also, the prime minister met Bilawal at the Chief Minister’s House. Federal ministers Syed Naveed Qamar, Faisal Subzwari, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Minister of State Musadik Malik, the Sindh governor, the chief minister and MQM leader Dr Farooq Sattar also participated in the huddle and exchanged views on the political situation in the country.

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