Monday, May 22, 2023
The attack on Jinnah House in Lahore on May 9 — and other military installations — during the violent protests that erupted following the arrest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has led to the day being termed a “Black Day” by the government and army.
The military has vowed stern action against those involved in violence, promising to bring all the abettors, planners and instigators to justice.
The ransacking of the Corps Commander House in Lahore — also known as Jinnah House — by enraged PTI protesters has brought shame to the nation.
Following the shocking attack on the military building, investigators identified hundreds of PTI supporters and workers involved. Those accused of the ransacking of the Corps Commander House include Khadija Shah — one of the country’s most famous fashion designers who has now announced to surrender before authorities.
Khadija Shah — the prime suspect of the attack on Jinnah House — is the daughter of Dr Salman Shah who was a member of former president Parvez Musharraf’s finance team and had also served as an adviser in the Punjab government during the Usman Buzdar government.
Shah is accused of leading the attack on Lahore Corps Commander’s House during the May 9 mayhem.
Claiming to be a supporter of PTI, she had been in hiding ever since the authorities launched the crackdown to arrest the accused involved in ransacking public and military installations following Khan’s arrest in a graft case.
Shah is also the granddaughter of a former army chief.
She announced to surrender on Sunday after police raided her house and took her family members, including her husband, into custody.
She had fled from the backdoor when the police raided her residence.
In the over 16 minutes-long audio message, Shah admitted that she was a PTI supporter and was part of the protest outside the Lahore Corps Commander’s House but denied committing any wrongdoing, including inciting people to violence.
“I am going to surrender to the police. I have taken this decision because the last five days remained very tough for me,” she said.
“They (authorities) barged into my house at midnight and abducted my husband and father. They roughed up my husband in front of our children... my domestic workers were also subjected to torture,” she claimed.
The PTI supporter went on to say she did not violate any law or the country's Constitution, adding that she had participated in many PTI protests during the past year.
She also disclosed that she was a dual citizen and trying to get help from the embassy but did not elaborate further in this regard.
“The Punjab government is trying to build a case against me saying I am the prime suspect and mastermind of the May 9 vandalism,” she said, accusing the provincial authorities of victimisation.
“I am neither an office bearer nor a worker of the PTI. I protested in an individual capacity as a supporter of Imran Khan,” she clarified.
Sharing her version of events that led to the attack on Jinnah House, she said she joined the PTI procession at Liberty Chowk in Lahore to protest against the arrest of the former prime minister, who was removed from power last year.
“I also met Andleeb Abbas (PTI leader) and I was later told that they (protesters) were heading towards the Corps Commander’s House to stage a protest there,” she added.
Shah said there was nothing wrong in staging a protest outside any location in any democratic country.
“I and Andleeb tried to stop the protesters from ransacking... but the crowd was getting larger and there were just a few organisers,” she claimed.
Moreover, Shah said she did not cross the barricade of Jinnah House and incite anyone to violence.
However, she admitted that she had posted videos of the ransacking of the Corps Commander’s House on Twitter to show the people what was happening as there was a media blackout.
“Yasmeen Rahsid [senior leader of PTI] told me that the protest outside the Corps Commander’s House would continue till the release of Imran Khan,” she added.
Admitting her mistake, she apologised to the army for her behaviour.
Khadija Shah acknowledged that she had made "inappropriate" tweets against the military leadership in anger and emotion, but now they have been deleted.
The PTI supporter added that she is more an army person than a civilian.
Meanwhile, government sources said that there is no discrimination against anyone due to their army background, affirming that those behind the May 9 vandalism would be brought to justice.