How The May 9 Attacks Were Planned And Executed

How The May 9 Attacks Were Planned And Executed
Law enforcers are cognisant of how the May 9 attacks were planned and executed, and have a solid proof of the sequence of events that led to the nationwide unrest and rioting, according to journalist Fakhar Durrani.

The proof of how events unfolded include voice notes and other digital material, he wrote in a piece for Urdu daily Jang.

According to the journalist, outspoken former PTI leader Faisal Vawda made these revelation during an interview over the phone.

Calculated strategy for violent protests

Durrani quoted the former federal minister as saying that the party leadership had a "calculated" strategy to attack military installations, the army's general headquarters (GHQ), the Lahore corps commander's house (Jinnah House), and other government buildings.

The former federal minister for water resources also claimed that attacks were planned for the ISI headquarters, and party workers were receiving directions from the second-tier leadership of PTI.

As part of a plan, they first coordinated with each other on social media, and then proceeded with the sharing the directions and following the instructions that had been issued to them by the party's coordinators.

Vawda, according to Durrani, also accused a key PTI member of being behind the unrest that took place on May 9. Two former ministers, who are part of PTI, want to replace former premier Imran Khan as PTI chairman, Vawda purported.

The May 9 attacks

Riots broke out in multiple cities across Pakistan as PTI supporters engaged in scuffles with law enforcement officials after Imran Khan was unceremoniously apprehended from the Islamabad high court premises on May 9.

Khan was arrested in the Al-Qadir Trust case by a heavy force of paramilitary Rangers personnel, armed with riot gear, from the premises of the Islamabad high court where he had appeared to secure pre-arrest bail in multiple FIRs registered against him. The court ruled his arrest lawful at the time.

A charged mob attempted to barge into GHQ, while some were seen kicking and slamming the gate. The army emblem that adorns the Gate No. 1 of the GHQ was also vandalised and desecrated by protesters. In another unprecedented event, the corps commander Lahore’s residence was attacked and the premises was set ablaze by violent protesters.

In videos that went viral on social media, Lt Gen Salman Ghani, who was commanding the Lahore corps on that day, could be seen helplessly attempting to pacify the riotous protesters who had barged into his living room. The Lahore corps commander's son was beside him, trying to speak to protesters - some armed with sticks and yelling at them - while his wife stood in a doorway.

Another group of 'protesters', allegedly carrying automatic weapons, was also seen gathering outside the Bala Hissar Fort, the paramilitary Frontier Corps' headquarters in Peshawar, and incidents of sporadic gunfire were also reported.

In another instance caught on camera, military vehicles were seen being pelted with stones by another mob, some of whom were waving PTI flags and chanting anti-army slogans.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan intervened and offered Khan respire in custody as well as a "fair trial" in the Islamabad high court which granted him "blanket bail" in multiple cases against him. It is unclear whether such favourable justice would be afforded to ordinary citizens of Pakistan by those responsible for impartially adjudicating the law.

The aftermath

The riots were seen as perhaps the inadvertent culmination of a year long movement that Khan started after his ouster in a vote of no confidence. The former premier adopted a virulent anti-establishment and anti-American narrative to regain the popularity he had lost while governing Pakistan for nearly four years.

Khan had blamed the country's powerful miltablishment for all the failings and shortcomings of his time in office: first castigating former army chief Gen (retd) Bajwa, and then unleashing his vitriol on incumbent army chief Gen Asim Munir. While Khan's rhetoric may have dissipated as did his followers in Zaman Park, hundreds of social media trolls continue to churn out propaganda and fake news against the army, and against its chief in particular.

For months, Khan's diehard fans and supporters formed a veritable human shield around him wherever he went; thereby preventing his arrest, lawfully ordered by multiple courts until they were struck down or superseded with bails from superior courts. Clashes ensued at Zaman Park, Khan's Lahore residence, whenever police attempted to approach it, even with overwhelming force.

Thousands of PTI workers and supporters, who were found to be involved in the attacks on army installations, are now in jail on serious charges. It has become obvious that a year-long campaign of disruption and challenging the government had unhealthily emboldened many of Khan's supporters and admirers who might now face draconian laws, since they had recorded themselves attacking the military buildings to prove that they were participating in Khan's movement for "real freedom".

The May 9 attacks are being seen as a watershed moment for Pakistan, not in terms of a population rising up for freedom and democracy, but as the vaunted Pakistan army losing its 'pride of place'; the final edifice of stability being chiseled away from underneath a volatile and deeply unstable nation.

Widespread condemnation of May 9 attacks

The incumbent PDM government, as well as a broad spectrum of democratic political parties, civil society and accredited media platforms condemned the May 9 attacks, and PM Shehbaz Sharif issued orders that all those responsible for the rioting to be brought to justice within 72 hours.

President Arif Alvi condemned the attacks on army installations some days ago, which prompted many analysts to note that an immediate condemnation ought to have been issued by President Alvi as supreme commander of the armed forces.

Khan, however, has yet to categorically condemn the May 9 attacks. In a short video, Khan was heard saying "whoever does not condemn it is not a Pakistani" in response to a question asked by someone off camera. Analysts say that for as long as he remains out of jail, in the near future Khan will try to exploit the arrests of his female workers in order to pressure the government in international media.