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Pakistan: Imran Khan acquitted in two cases linked to May 9 riots due to insufficient knowledge

The court said that insufficient evidence was presented in the cases of long march and violation of Article 144 against Imran Khan. On May 9 last year, the supporters of Imran Khan's party vandalised over 20 military installations and buildings over the PTI founder's arrest.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Islamabad Published on: May 30, 2024 14:40 IST
Pakistan, Imran Khan
Image Source : AP (FILE) Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan

Islamabad: A district and sessions court in Islamabad on Thursday acquitted incarcerated former Prime Minister Imran Khan in two cases related to the May 9 riots, where hundreds of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder's supporters vandalised military facilities after his arrest last year. The petition challenging the two cases was approved by Judicial Magistrate Umar Shabbir and Imran was acquitted due to insufficient evidence.

In its verdict, the court said, "Because of insufficient evidence presented by the prosecution, the PTI founder has been acquitted." This came after the former PM was acquitted in two cases pertaining to the riots on May 15. The cases were registered against the PTI founder for long march and violation of Article 144, according to Geo News.

Imran Khan currently remains behind bars in Rawalpindi's Adiala Jail, while he and several senior PTI leaders are facing various allegations in the cases related to the violence following his arrest on May 9. The 71-year-old cricketer-turned-politician declined to apologise for the May 9 riots, saying he was under detention at the time and was unaware of those protests.

What happened on May 9?

On May 9, the supporters of Imran Khan's party vandalised over 20 military installations and government buildings, including the Lahore Corps Commander House, Mianwali airbase and the ISI building in Faisalabad. The violent protests came in the wake of Imran's arrest by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on corruption charges. He was later released on bail. Police arrested over 10,000 workers of PTI and hundreds are being tried, including one under the Official Secrets Act. At least 10 people were killed.

Imran was booked in multiple cases related to the violence on May 9, but he has the allegations mentioned in the first information reports (FIRs) of the cases. The former PM was charged with plotting and incitement to violence and was even named in two terrorism cases. The riots are believed to have led to a military-backed crackdown on the PTI, which was barred from contesting the general election directly. The Shehbaz Sharif-led government decided to commemorate the day in solidarity with martyrs and their families with the slogan: "May 9, never again."

Soon after the riots, civil and military leaders last year decided to observe May 9 as “black day” at the national level. PTI spokesperson Raoof Hasan claimed that there was a crackdown on PTI supporters across the country, with dozens arrested in different cities to scuttle their planned protest.

What did Pakistan Army say on May 9 riots?

Meanwhile, the country's military establishment on Thursday called for bringing to justice the planners, perpetrators, abettors, and facilitators of May 9 riots for the "collective good of the country". The Army said that stability in the country will remain hostage to the machinations of such elements without swift and transparent dispensation of justice to the culprits and establishing the rule of law, according to an official release.

The Army further claimed that "politically motivated and vested digital terrorism, unleashed by conspirators duly abetted by their foreign cohorts, against state institutions is clearly meant to try to induce despondency in the Pakistani nation, to sow discord among national institutions, especially the Armed Forces, and the people of Pakistan by peddling blatant lies, fake news, and propaganda."

In the one-year anniversary of the riots, Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said there "can absolutely be no soft-pedalling of what happened on May 9" last year and "there can be no absolution for those who orchestrated, supported, and assisted the attempt to damage the foundations of our nation". 

“On the one hand, there are the great sons of the nation who shed their blood for their homeland, their great families, and the patriotic public. On the other, there are those characters burning in the fire of hatred, who neither have any pain in their heart for state interests nor have any respect or nobility for national monuments, state institutions, the Constitution or the law,” Shehbaz said.

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