June 27, 2023
ISLAMABAD – Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General (DG) Maj-Gen Ahmed Sharif said on Monday that three army officers, including a lieutenant general, were sacked from their jobs as a part of the military’s “self-accountability process” into the events of May 9.
He made these revelations in a press conference on the “facts” of May 9 — when protests erupted across the country following the arrest of PTI Chairman Imran Khan.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the incident of May 9 is extremely disappointing, condemnable and a black chapter in the history of our country,” he said at the outset of the media briefing.
“The events of May 9 have proven that what enemies couldn’t do in 76 years, a bunch of miscreants and their facilitators did,” the DG ISPR said, highlighting that the incident was “undoubtedly a conspiracy against Pakistan”.
“The investigation held until now has proven that [the events] of May 9 were being planned for the past several months,” he said. “Under this planning, first a conducive environment was created and people were instigated and provoked against the army.
“Then, in this connection, a narrative based on lies and exaggeration was spread on social media inside and outside the country,” Maj-Gen Sharif stated, adding that the authorities had obtained evidence against them.
The DG ISPR said that there was a huge amount of grief and anger among the heirs of martyrs and veterans over the events of May 9.
He highlighted that the Pakistan Army was laying martyrs to rest every day while operations against terrorists were underway. “While the Pakistan Army is giving these sacrifices, on the other hand, unfortunately, filthy propaganda was done on the basis of a false narrative for nefarious political objectives.”
Maj-Gen Sharif said the families of the martyrs were hurt and “they ask all of us today if their loved ones rendered these sacrifices for the nation so that their memorials are disrespected in such a manner”.
“The heirs of the martyrs are asking of all of us, especially the army chief, whether they would be able to protect the honour of the martyred soldiers from these miscreants.”
The DG ISPR stressed that stability in any country was based on the relationship shared by the army and the citizens. He said that despite attempts, the enemy was unable to dent the relationship of “trust and respect between the army and the people”.
“Some basic reasons for this are that the armed forces have been and will continue to give countless sacrifices for the defence of the country and the welfare of the people.
“This is the trust of people that, no matter the circumstances, the army will not shy away from any sacrifice, and the reality that the armed forces represent all schools of thought … and not any particular elite,” the DG ISPR added.
During the press conference, Maj-Gen Sharif revealed that the army had completed its process of “self-accountability”, saying that two comprehensive inquiries — led by major generals — were conducted into violent events that took place at army garrisons on May 9.
“After a deliberate and detailed accountability process, keeping the requests of in-court of inquiries in view, disciplinary proceedings were initiated against those who failed to keep the security and honour of garrisons, military installations, Jinnah House and General Headquarters intact.
“Three officers, including a lieutenant-general, have been removed from their jobs. Strict disciplinary proceedings against officers, including three major generals and seven brigadiers, have been completed,” he added.
The DG ISPR said that these penalties showed that accountability in the Pakistan Army was carried out without discrimination, irrespective of rank or social status.
“As of now, a granddaughter of a retired four-star general, son-in-law of a retired four-star star general, wife of a retired three-star general, and wife and son-in-law of a retired two-star general are facing this process of accountability on the basis of irrefutable evidence.”
Talking about trials under the Army Act, Maj-Gen Sharif said that 17 standing military courts were functioning in which “trial of 102 miscreants is underway and this process will continue”.
In response to a question, the DG ISPR said the suspects being tried in military courts had complete legal rights, including the right of appeal in the high courts and Supreme Court.
He further stated that these suspects would be penalised according to their crime, adding that the “Pakistan Army has resolved time and again that the Constitution is sacred for us and a reflection of nation’s wishes”.
“All planners and facilitators linked to this incident will be punished according to the Constitution and law of Pakistan, no matter what political party or institution or social status they may be associated with.
“And those creating hurdles in the way of making this process reach its logical conclusion will be dealt with strictly with the full support of the people of Pakistan,” the DG ISPR asserted.
‘Exposing masterminds of May 9 events’
Questioned about the identification of those actually responsible behind the events of May 9 and their punishment, the DG ISPR said that the planners and masterminds of the incident were those who were involved in “misleading the people for the past several months against the army and its leadership”.
“The incident of May 9 did not happen in isolation. The objective behind it was to send people to attack military installations and then draw an immediate reaction from the army,” DG Sharif said.
Even women, he continued, were used as a “shield” to “achieve these nefarious political designs”.
“No one expected that a political party would attack its own army like this. But when it did happen, the army rendered this conspiracy unsuccessful. Had it given the response they wanted, their conspiracy would have been successful.”
The DG ISPR further said that “it is clear as day” that the masterminds of the May 9 riots were those who told the people to act against the army, hurl petrol bombs at them and set their graves on fire.
“It is most important to expose the planner and facilitators of these events and bring them to justice if the nation wants to move on from May 9,” he stressed, adding that otherwise “any other political party will repeat these actions”.
He added that people from all schools of thought, from politicians to media persons and courts, would have to work together and reject this mentality to prevent a repeat of such events.
“We all must know that the biggest danger to the State of Pakistan is from internal instability and it has two faces: one is terrorism against which the armed forces and intelligence agencies are standing like a wall.
“The other face is lack of tolerance, the peak of which was seen on May 9.”
‘Can’t hide behind hue and cry of human rights violations’
On a question regarding allegations of human rights violations of those behind bars, Maj-Gen Sharif said that the “narrative” was created through fake videos and photos posted on social media.
“False statements are put up to create a general impression that the State of Pakistan is inflicting torture and in a few days it was made clear that these videos and audios were fake.”
He went on to say that such narratives were spun against the state previously as well, noting that “such voices usually come from outside the country”.
“But it also happens that some elements from inside the country reinforce these claims … they are usually terrorist organisations that hide behind the garb of human rights violations when action is taken against them.
“Another way is when particular people or NGOs outside Pakistan give statements, in exchange for money, that human rights violations are taking place inside Pakistan and the state was behind it,” the DG ISPR said.
However, he continued, the government was aware of these tactics and had briefed foreign media and consulates regarding it.
“The planner and facilitators of May 9 cannot hide behind this hue and cry about human rights violations,” Maj-Gen Sharif stressed, adding that it was time to “end the currency of lies and digest the truth”.
He further advised against spreading fake news and sensationalism, saying that “responsible journalism” was important to counter propaganda in the country.
The DG ISPR said that even though a “filthy attack was planned on the Pakistan Army”, the security forces conducted 13,619 intelligence operations this year in which 1,172 terrorists were killed or arrested.
“On a daily basis, over 77 operations are being carried out by armed forces, police, intelligence agencies and other law enforcement agencies to rid of the menace of terrorism,” he detailed.
Maj-Gen Sharif further stated that 95 soldiers embraced martyrdom in these operations. “The entire nation pays tribute to these brave sons and their heirs.”
He vowed that Pakistan would continue its war against terrorism “until the last of terrorists are eliminated.”
‘All haqeeqi political parties respectable for us’
Responding to a question on whether the army would show flexibility regarding talks with the PTI chief, DG Sharif said that all the “haqeeqi political parties were worthy of respect for the military.
“If you read our May 15 press release, it has been said there that the army wants all political stakeholders to sit together and create a national consensus.
“We said this on May 15 after May 9, so that confidence is built in people, there is economic stability and values of democracy are strengthened in Pakistan,” he pointed out.
The DG ISPR also highlighted that the Pakistan Army supported all such processes and would continue to do so.
On a question regarding the exodus of politicians from the PTI in the aftermath of May 9, DG Sharif said that leaving a party or not was “a personal matter”.
Talking about the economic situation of the country, DG Sharif said that the defence budget was at the lowest level, allocation-wise, in the history of the country at 12.5 per cent of the budget presented this year.
“We must understand a few things that the deduction in the defence budget was according to the overall economy of the country.
“The army, airforce and navy do not consider themselves to be separate from the country or its economy … we are part of this and our problems are collective,” the DG ISPR clarified.
He added that the armed forces were, in its own way, indulged in “belt-tightening” and fulfilling its requirements through “self-reliance instead of foreign procurement”.
“I can assure you that Pakistan Army’s operational preparedness is being met and we are totally cognisant of that,” DG Sharif assured, adding that despite economic restraints, Pakistan had been successful in its fight against terrorism for years.