All those women involved in vandalising military installations would be apprehended at all costs, vowed Punjab Interim Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi on Saturday.
The violent protests were triggered soon after Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan was arrested by the Rangers personnel and sent to jail in the £190 million Al-Qadir Trust case — acting on National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) warrant on May 9.
At least 10 people were killed and dozens of others sustained injuries during the days-long protests with internet services also remaining suspended for over 72 hours across the country.
In their bid to demand Khan’s release, the enraged mob attacked sensitive national institutions and buildings — including the General Headquarters (GHQ) and Corps Commander House (Jinnah House) — on May 9. The protesters also desecrated the martyrs’ monument and set Radio Pakistan’s building on fire.
To investigate attacks on civil and military properties, the Punjab government on May 13 decided to constitute a joint investigation team (JIT).
In a strong reaction, the military's top brass vowed on May 15 to try protesters and their abettors under relevant laws, including the Pakistan Army Act and the Official Secrets Act and dubbed May 9 as “Black Day”.
According to a spokesperson of Punjab CM, over 500 women are wanted in 138 cases filed in connection with the violent protests. He maintained that the government would show leniency if the women present inside or outside the Jinnah House surrender themselves voluntarily.
“The women involved in attacks on the military installations do not deserve any leniency,” the spokesperson said, quoting the interim chief minister.
Naqvi, however, refrained male policemen from taking any woman suspect into custody and directed them to ensure the presence of lady police officials during the raids.
Women booked under Anti-Terrorism Act will also be arrested, the spokesperson added.
It is pertinent to mention here that the National Security Committee — the country's apex body on security — also dubbed May 9 as "Black Day", and also endorsed the army's decision of trying the vandals under the Pakistan Army Act.
The PTI chairman, however, rubbished allegations about the involvement of his party workers in the violence and shifted the blame onto the agencies.
A day earlier, the interim government in Punjab shared "solid proof" including pictures, videos and messages about the involvement of the PTI in the May 9 incidents with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) members, reported The News.
CM Naqvi told the meeting, which was also attended by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja, that a political party brought disgrace to the whole nation on May 9, adding that attacks on military installations were carried out under a planned strategy.
He added that the investigators were able to find proof of contact between the attackers and the political leadership at Zaman Park through geo-fencing.
The CM claimed that according to initial estimates, the country suffered Rs6 billion losses due to the May 9 attacks.
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