President Zardari, PM Shehbaz term May 9 as ‘dark day’ in Pakistan’s history

ISLAMABAD: As the nation commemorates the first anniversary of the May 9 riots, President Asif Ali Zardari characterized the event as a pivotal “dark day” in the nation’s history, significantly tarnishing its reputation.

Expressing regret over the riots and their alignment with the agendas of Pakistan’s adversaries, President Zardari denounced the politically motivated assaults by mobs on military installations as a deliberate effort to challenge the authority of the state, subvert the rule of law, and erode institutional strength.

The president’s remarks refer to the riots that broke out after the arrest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder and former prime minister Imran Khan’s arrest in the £190 million settlement case and saw hundreds of protestors storming and vandalising military installations and government buildings across the country.

During the protests, the miscreants targeted the civil and military installations including — Jinnah House and the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi. The military termed May 9 “Black Day” and decided to try the protesters under the Army Act.

The incident resulted in a nationwide crackdown against the PTI which saw hundreds of people being arrested, some of whom are being tried by military courts, for their alleged involvement in the riots.

Moreover, dozens of senior leaders and political figures also parted ways with the former ruling party in their bid to distance them from the incident.

“We have never seen such vandalism in responsible democracies, with violent mobs wreaking havoc on state properties for political gains,” President Zardari said while stressing that any attempt to misuse these rights to incite violence would never be tolerated.

Calling for accountability and that those responsible for the incident to be brought to justice, the president underscored the need for a united effort by all political parties to promote “tolerance, democratic values, and political dialogue, and provide a clear direction to the nation”.

Terming the right to protest and constructive criticism as a key part of the Constitution, Zardari said that such rights must be exercised with “utmost responsibility, adhering strictly to the bounds of constitutional and legal provisions”.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, in a statement, termed the May 9 riots a day that effectively separated those who believe in sacrifice for the country on one hand, and those who betray the country for personal gains.

“One year ago today, not only were symbols of our national pride and honour attacked, but the sanctity of our sacred homeland was also assaulted,” the prime minister said in a statement on his X account on Thursday.

He further ruled out any forgiveness for those who orchestrated, supported, and assisted the attempt to damage the foundations of the country.

On one hand, we have the great sons of the soil, their families, and the patriotic people who have shed their blood for the country, on the other hand, we have those who are consumed by the fire of hatred and have no regard for the national interests, institutions, constitution, or laws,” PM Shehbaz said in another statement issued a day earlier.

Stressing the sacrifices made by the martyrs, the premier said: “We promise to the country, the great martyrs, their heirs, and the nation that May 9 will never be forgotten […] we must move forward, overcome the challenges, and create a bright future for our future generations”.

“Let us honour the memories of our martyrs and continue our journey towards progress and prosperity,” the prime minister added.

As per sources, the PM is scheduled to address a special event in connection with May 9 incidents at the Convention Centre Islamabad to mark the first anniversary of last year’s riots.

Sources say that a special meeting of the federal cabinet would be held at parliament house today and declare May 9 as “black day”.

The Punjab and Balochistan assemblies have also been summoned on May 9 to condemn the incidents, the sources added.

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