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Probe attributes May 9 violence to Imran Khan and 34 orchestrators

An investigative report commissioned by the caretaker government alleges former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s direct involvement in orchestrating violent attacks on military installations on May 9, 2023.

Presented to the cabinet, the report attributes responsibility for the violent incidents. While not officially released, its contents were leaked to the press.

Several federal ministers have commented on the report, with Rana Sanaullah criticizing its adequacy while others expressing satisfaction.

The report asserts that Imran Khan played an active role in the planning process.

Furthermore, it reveals that investigations thus far implicate 34 individuals who masterminded the strategy of violent street actions, alongside 52 individuals involved in detailed planning and 185 individuals executing the plan.

According to the report, supporters of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, including armed individuals, were transported from party strongholds in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to Lahore days before Khan’s arrest.

These individuals were accommodated in various spots across Lahore, their expenses covered by party leaders and sympathizers.

Their main aim was to thwart Khan’s arrest and, if needed, resort to violence and chaos.

According to the report, they effectively hindered Khan’s apprehension on multiple occasions by resisting law enforcement agencies.

On May 9, 2023, subsequent to Imran Khan’s arrest, these individuals congregated at prearranged spots to act as rallying points for other party members, the report noted.

Armed with weapons like batons, they actively exacerbated the already heightened emotions of the crowd, guided by cues from social media.

They also directed the crowd towards specific sites, including the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi and the Jinnah House in Lahore.

The report states: “On May 9, 2023, following Mr. Khan’s arrest, these individuals assembled at pre-decided locations to serve as rallying points for other party workers. Evidence shows these individuals were already armed with batons etc., to cause violence.

Taking the lead from social media, they successfully further enflamed the already charged emotions of the crowd. They also helped steer crowds towards pre-decided locations such as the GHQ in Rawalpindi and the Jinnah House in Lahore.

Testimonies recorded of those present at these places speak of voices from within the crowd prompting them to march to certain locations and silencing opposition to those suggestions. Once at those locations, these individuals initiated violence and encouraged others to participate.”

Upon reaching the specified sites, these individuals instigated violence and urged others to join in.

The violence pattern observed on May 9, 2023, indicates a meticulously planned strategy targeting specific objectives, including military installations.

“The occurrences of May 9, 2023, were not random nor entirely impromptu. They formed part of a coordinated strategy to showcase street power through violence in the event of Mr. Khan’s arrest. Evidence presented to the Committee suggests that as the likelihood of Mr. Khan’s arrest increased (due to his defiant conduct), the party leadership devised a plan to respond to his arrest by inciting violence and chaos through attacks on military installations,” the report stated.

Examination of call records during the investigation reveals that certain PTI leaders communicated with the rioters assaulting the Jinnah House, indicating close collaboration between PTI leaders and the rioters.

During interrogation, many of the apprehended individuals admitted to receiving instructions from PTI party leaders to engage in violence and target specific sites, such as the residence of the Corps Commander in Lahore.

The report concludes that the occurrences of May 9, 2023, were not isolated nor entirely spontaneous, but rather part of an orchestrated strategy to exhibit street power through violence in response to Imran Khan’s potential arrest.

The evidence presented to the cabinet committee suggests that as the likelihood of Khan’s arrest grew, the party leadership devised a plan to respond with violence, thereby exerting pressure on the military to engage with the PTI.

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