ISLAMABAD, May 23 (APP): Minister for Power Division Engineer Khurram Dastgir on Tuesday categorically said that those who attacked civilian installations on May 9 would be prosecuted under the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 and the Pakistan Penal Code while those who attacked military installations would be prosecuted under the Army Act 1952, which has a provision for doing so.
Briefing foreign media on the current political situation here, he said, “No new legislation is under consideration. No new courts are being created”.
He said the insurrectionists would be prosecuted under existing laws on Pakistan’s statute books, laws that were there and used by Imran Khan’s government during 2018-22.
The minister said the parties that constitute the current federal government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif obtained more than two-thirds of the popular vote polled across all four provinces in the July 2018 general election. We represented an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis, he added.
He went on to say that parliament would provide full funding for the general election and its security in the upcoming federal budget due on 9 June. Parliament would also complete its term in mid-August 2023 and elections would be held on schedule this autumn.
The minister said PM Shahbaz Sharif’s broad-based government was committed to the fundamental rights of all Pakistanis—of the victims as well as of the perpetrators.
He said the events of 9-10 May were not a popular protest. They were not democratic dissent. Followers of Imran Khan (IK) staged a nationwide insurrection against a nuclear state, he said.
Khurram said only a handful of IK supporters took to the streets after his arrest. Contrary to the perception that tens of thousands came out, there was no outpouring of Pakistanis, he added.
He said democratic dissent was expressed peacefully—through slogans, songs, and protest placards; not through violence, arson, and wanton destruction.
However, the IK’s followers attacked, burned, and destroyed defence installations, martyrs’ memorials and statues, communication infrastructure, broadcast infrastructure, schools, ambulances, police vehicles, and private cars and motorcycles, he said.
The minister said even in Islamabad there were only a few dozen young people on the streets. IK-party insurrectionists went on a violent rampage across the country, from Karachi to Peshawar, he added.
He said in its breadth and strategic targeting, the insurrection on May 9-10 echoed and reproduced the terrorist assault on Pakistan between 2007 and 2016. It also mirrored an event from exactly 100 years ago: the 1923 beer hall putsch by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party, he added.
Khurram said nine years ago, IK and his followers got away with attacks on Parliament House, Pakistan Television, PM House, and with assault hundreds of Islamabad policemen. IK and his followers also got away with an armed attack on Islamabad in October 2016, he added.
The minister said PML-N 2013-18 elected government led by Nawaz Sharif gave the latitude to IK and his followers under the rubric of democratic dissent and protest. We would not repeat that mistake, he added.
He said democracies around the world react to riots and insurrections, he said.
Replying to a question, he said the government believed in freedom of expression and no journalist has been picked up, or beaten since its inception in April 2022. Video evidence that existed would be used to identify the culprits, he said.