PTI 'victimised' under guise of May 9, says Ayub citing Benazir's assassination protests

NA opposition leader terms his party "victim" saying all May 9 evidence were disappeared

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PTI Secretary General Omar Ayub is addressing the National Assembly session on May 13, 2024. — Screengrab/PTVParliament

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Secretary-General Omar Ayub has delivered an explosive speech on the floor of the National Assembly, rejecting the allegations that his party was involved in the violent May 9 protests and reiterating the demand to hold a judicial inquiry into the riots that broke out almost across the country following former prime minister Imran Khan’s arrest last year.

Addressing the National Assembly session on Monday, Ayub — also the leader of the opposition in the lower house of parliament — said the country suffered immense damages following the assassination of former prime minister Benzair Bhutto in 2007.

“I want to clarify that Benazir was martyred due to a bomb blast and the violence that broke out in the country resulted in $2 billion in losses,” the senior PTI leader said.

He said scores of trains, locomotives, and railway stations were also damaged in the violent protests following the ex-PM's assassination on December 27, 2007, in Rawalpindi.

Ayub said Karachi alone suffered damages worth Rs80 to Rs90 billion in three to four days of violence.

“Mr speaker, I want to ask this House and you that how many people were arrested and how many inquiries were ordered. How many people were put behind bars and how many people were sentenced,” he remarked.

Despite billions of rupees loss, Ayub said no action was taken against those involved in the violence in 2007.

Likewise, Ayub said $1.8 billion worth of damages were incurred during protests in France on July 8, 2023.

"May 9 was merely an excuse and the actual target was Imran Khan," he said while lamenting the crackdown on party workers and leaders following the May 9 violent protests triggered by the arrest of the PTI founder in a corruption case from the premises of Islamabad High Court (IHC) in May last year. 

The violent protests saw attacks on private and public installations including military installations with the army declaring the riots as "Black Day" and vowing to punish the accused under the Army Act. 

Responding to allegations that the PTI was responsible for the violent protests, Ayub, in today's NA speech, termed his party as "victim" saying all evidence including CCTV footage related to the May 9 violence were disappeared to obstruct justice.

Last week, Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (DG ISPR) Major General Ahmed Sharif Chaudhry said that the perpetrators and facilitators of the May 9 riots need to be punished as per the Constitution and law of the land to preserve the credibility and faith in the country’s justice system.

"The issue of May 9 riots is not limited to the Pakistan Army but [in fact] concerns the whole nation," the military's spokesperson said while addressing a press conference in Rawalpindi on May 7 ahead of the violent protests anniversary.

In the same presser, DG ISPR had demanded "those involved in the May 9 violent protests to apologise" and shun politics of “anarchy” before holding any dialogue.