May 9 incident 2023: The past and the way forward

Marking one year after the devastating incident that happened on May 9, 2023, once again has caught the attention of those who have a close eye on the civil-military relationship in Pakistan. The incident happened when Pakistan Tekhrek E Insaf leader Imran Khan was sentenced to jail in charge of the Al-Qadir trust case. With the arrest of the ex-prime minister, of violent mob rushed toward the military installations, especially damaging the core commander’s house known as the Jinnah house and causing chaos in the entire country. The mob also ridiculed and damaged the historical memorial of martyrs and burned out the iconic Radio Pakistan building in Peshawar. This incident caused huge polarization and had also hurtled the sympathies of people because of having affection for the armed forces.

The incident challenged the entire status quo and raised concerns about the relationship between the civil and military leadership. The roots of the incident can be traced back to the rhetorical speech of PTI leader Imran Khan in which he waved the letter and claimed the alleged involvement of the U.S. in toppling the government. In the face of such provocation, the military authorities kept their cool and handled the situation most judiciously. May 9 was a failed attempt to persuade the military personnel to attack the violent, but these maneuvers were failed, and the people should solidarity with the army.

No state will allow its citizens to damage its governmental infrastructure regardless of cause. On January 6, 2021, in a popular uprising in the U.S., former President Donald Trump charged their supporters who violently attacked Capitol Hill. The mob was directed to overthrow the Biden administration from office, which threatened the liberal and democratic values of the U.S. The response to this incident was robust and effective. All perpetrators who were involved in this incident faced trial and were brought to justice. Now take the case of Pakistan, which is a security state and can never compromise on such incidents, which threaten its security and question its institutional credibility. 

The army, which kept an eye on its own battle neutrality and democratic principles, still had the role it played was critical in restoring harmony during the chaos. Nevertheless, the insurrectionists did not win as the military endured in avoiding the instigating of any revolution, thereby, allowing the democratic process to proceed. This restriction showed that the army was ready to abide by the constitution and democratic values, and this ensured that the succeeding government of the country was from the people. The incident clearly manifests the relevance of leadership qualities that are anchored on solid facts in addition to the military’s role in keeping democracy and the universe of stability in the country.

The everlasting struggle in Pakistan is not simply discrimination but an uphill task against an outmoded practice that aims to undermine democratic values and hinder the country’s development. It is a conflict with the mentality that propagates the ideas of democratic transformation being stopped and intolerance and narrow-mindedness being adopted instead. Any party in power that forgoes these values, not abusing and terrorizing and instead embracing these principles, may be challenged with massive resistance. No country in the world tolerates violent authoritarian rulers who have tendencies toward violent internal conflict, and it is not Pakistan’s problem only but as a whole. The concord of the country’s citizens and their institutions should be in sync with negative forces like violent groups, militias, or dictatorships that stand for peace, inclusiveness, and democratic governance. Taking such measures, Pakistan will be able to overcome current and future challenges to clear its way to regional stability.

The government is determined to give justice to everyone involved in what happened on May 9 and make sure that those who caused violence and chaos are held responsible. This strong action is meant to strongly rebuke these kinds of actions, making it clear that the government will not stand for any attempts to weaken democratic principles and the rule of law. By taking a strong stand, the government shows that it is committed to justice, protecting people’s rights, and supporting a culture of peace and respect. This strong reaction will stop similar things from happening again, creating a society where freedom, acceptance, and the rules of justice are respected.

Abdul Mussawer Safi
Abdul Mussawer Safi

Abdul Mussawer Safi is associated to think tank such as institute of Policy studies Islamabad (IPS) and pursuing his master’s in International Relations from National Defense University Islamabad. His expertise lies in the regional dynamics of South Asia.

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