‘May 9 was an attempt to incite rebellion within armed forces in favour of PTI’


Riots were culmination of narrative built around strategy that justified violence against Imran Khan’s opponents as national service

Charged mob gathers in front of the main entrance of General Headquarters (GHQ) during a protest against the arrest of PTI founder Imran Khan, in Rawalpindi on May 9, 2023. — AFP
  • Report points out strategic violence against Imran Khan’s opponents.
  • “Khan held military responsible for his ouster from govt”: report.
  • Terms May 9 riots “part of organised strategy” against institutions.

ISLAMABAD: The caretaker government’s report on May 9 said that it was an organised and dangerous strategy not only to pressurise the Pakistan Army for a political deal to meet Imran Khan’s demands but a brazen attempt to incite rebellion from within the armed forces in Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) favour.

“The party had been emboldened by a lack of firm response to its earlier violence by state institutions. A frontal assault on military installations was to weaken the army’s morale and pressure it into political deal making. This was also a brazen and a mistaken attempt at inciting rebellion from within the armed forces in its favour,” says the report. 

It added, “The events of May 9, 2023 were neither isolated nor entirely spontaneous. They were part of an organised and dangerous strategy to pressure state institutions into acceding to Mr Khan’s demands.”

The report said that the events of May 9 were the culmination of a narrative built around a personality cult, and a strategy that justified violence against his opponents as national service.

The caretaker government’s cabinet committee, which probed the matter, noted with “profound pain” that a popular political party would elect to hurt national interest through such reckless plans. 

The Constitution guarantees the right of political association to advance the interests of the people, not to harm state institutions and national interests.

According to the report, “[Imran] Khan had long seen the military establishment as, both, the entity responsible for his ouster from the government and the only institution he was open to negotiating with. 

“He [Khan] had repeatedly voiced his contempt for other political parties and their leaders and his constant refusal to even sit in Parliament with them. He had also expressed a desire to engage with the military establishment to find political solutions. 

“Khan refused to respect the constitutional role for the armed forces that require them to remain apolitical. He desired active engagement by the armed forces in politics in violation of their constitutional mandate. When the armed forces refused to be dragged into politics, Khan and his party sought to create an environment that would pressure them into engaging with him. 

“This was augmented by a media strategy through local and external platforms. Khan at no point denounced or disowned the May 9 events, rather twisted its facts to widen the divide between the people and the armed forces, nor he has publicly acknowledged the consequences of this event on the national security of Pakistan.

The report further said, “A strategy was developed to demonstrate street power by attacking defence installations. This would, at once, allow  the PTI supporters to vent their anger for the no-confidence motion at the armed forces, and to pressure them into engagement with the PTI. 

This strategy was based on a simple assumption that a clash between unarmed protesters and the military would generate anti-military sentiment, thus creating a gulf between the people and the armed forces. Such a gulf would corner the military into engaging politically and, perhaps, Mr Khan saw himself as a saviour capable of bridging such a gulf.”

Originally published in The News


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