Desecration of memorials to martyrs: Nation will not forgive, forget, says COAS

our correspondents
Friday, May 26, 2023

ISLAMABAD/ PESHAWAR: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Asim Munir on Thursday said that whatever happened on May 9 — the day when violent protests gripped the country after Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s arrest — was very sad and condemnable, adding that the nation will not forgive or forget those who desecrated the memorials of martyrs and undermined their dignity.

His comments came during his visit to the Police Lines Headquarters in Islamabad on the occasion of Youm-e-Takreem Shuhada-e-Pakistan (Martyrs Reverence Day) to remember and pay rich tribute to the martyrs who laid down their lives while defending the motherland and its people.

The nation on Thursday paid rich tributes to the martyrs of Pakistan who rendered the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty for ensuring integrity, sovereignty and honour of the nation and motherland.

The army chief was welcomed by Inspector General of Police (IGP), Islamabad, Dr Akbar Nasir Khan, where he addressed the police officials and families of the martyred policemen and personnel. “Such behaviour will not be tolerated,” said the army chief.

General Munir said the Pakistan Army, police and law enforcement agencies are the symbols of the state and the first line of defence that would render sacrifices for the dignity of the country and the people.

“I want to convey this message to the heirs of those martyred that the people of Pakistan and the Pakistan Army are standing and will continue to do so with the relatives of the martyrs of all law enforcement agencies,” he said.

The COAS also invited the daughter of martyred Sepoy Imran, Azra, whose video condemning the May 9 events went viral. The army chief assured her that the sacrifices of the martyrs will never be forgotten.

“The Pakistan Army will always stand with you in every difficulty,” he said, adding that all the martyrs of the country are a source of pride.

The army chief also met school students and children of martyrs present on the occasion. He said the Pakistan Army was the heir of all children of martyrs.

Thanks to the eternal sacrifices of the martyrs, the army’s relationship with them was ideal and eternal, he added.

He pledged on behalf of the armed forces that the army would stand on their side always. “A strong army is the guarantor of a country’s security and unity,” he maintained.

In his message, President Arif Alvi said that the entire nation is proud of its valiant martyrs who displayed the spirit of patriotism and fearlessness in testing times throughout history.

“The nation owes to the heroism and sacrifices offered by the jawans (soldiers) and officers of our armed forces, including Pakistan Army, Rangers, air force, navy, police, and other security institutions that made Pakistan’s defence impregnable,” a press release issued by President Secretariat Press Wing stated.

The president acknowledged the armed forces’ services for crushing the menace of terrorism and assisting fellow countrymen during natural calamities and pandemics.

“Let us pledge on this day that we will never forget our valiant martyrs and reiterate our commitment to always honour them and express our undying love for these brave sons and daughters of the nation,” the statement added.

Meanwhile, chairing a high-level meeting at the Governor House, Peshawar, to review the law and order situation, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said the nation would not forgive us if the attackers of civil and defence installations on May 9-10 escaped justice.

“Those involved in rioting and planners will be tried under the relevant sections of Anti- Terrorism Act,” he said.

Shehbaz Sharif assured that no injustice would be done to those who were found not involved in subversive activity.

Besides others, the meeting was attended by Governor Ghulam Ali, caretaker Chief Minister Muhammad Azam Khan, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb, Federal Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Prime Minister Adviser Amir Muqam, the KP chief secretary and provincial police chief.

The prime minister said this important meeting was planned soon after the May 9-10 incident but was delayed due to some unavoidable circumstances.

However, he said, a zoom meeting was arranged with the KP governor and chief minister to get himself appraised about the huge losses inflicted by the rioters.

Shehbaz lamented that the elements, who claimed to be pro-Pakistan, were in fact involved in vandalism and by attacking the defence installations, they caused damage beyond imagination that could not have been done by our enemies in the 75-year history of the country.

“There is no difference between the rioters of May 9-10 and the terrorists,” he said, adding that his government would ensure that such deplorable incidents never were repeated again.

He told the participants the federal government in consultation with provincial governments had decided that those involved in vandalism and their abettors would be tried under the Anti-Terrorism Act. Whereas those elements who attacked the defence installations would be tried under the rules authorised to defence institutions.

The prime minister said it would be ensured that no injustice was done to any innocent persons in this whole process of bringing the anti-state elements to justice.

Meanwhile, the prime minister ordered immediate launch of work for restoration of the historic building of Radio Pakistan, Peshawar, which was completely destroyed and set ablaze by the miscreants during violent incidents on 9th and 10th of May.

He issued the directives while addressing a ceremony during his visit to the Radio Pakistan Peshawar.

The prime minister expressed dismay at the loss of precious and historic archival record that was completely destroyed when torched by the violent mob.

While lauding the bravery and national spirit of Radio Pakistan employees, the premier distributed cheques of financial assistance for the two staff members who bravely countered the violent mob that attacked the building of the national broadcaster.

He said ransacking and arson of Radio Pakistan Peshawar building severely hurt and shocked the 222 million people of Pakistan.

He said torching the national broadcaster and its archival record by arsonists was not patriotism but enmity with the nation.

Shehbaz Sharif said those who were involved in ransacking, torching and miscreant activities would be dealt with an iron hand according to the law and the Constitution.

Marriyum Aurangzeb said the armed gangs attacked Radio Pakistan Peshawar building after a complete planning.

She said the entire building and historic archival record was torched though the district administration and radio staff made their best efforts to stop them.

The minister said the armed groups would face strict action according to law.

Director General Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation Tahir Hassan gave a detailed briefing to the prime minister on the destruction and damages caused by the miscreants.

During the visit, the prime minister also announced payment of two months pending salaries to Radio Pakistan employees.

Earlier in his tweets, PM Shehbaz urged the people, especially the children, to visit monuments and graves of martyrs and shower flowers on them as a sign of affection and respect. He said Pakistan should show the world that it is a nation that holds its martyrs in veneration and affection. He said that martyrs’ reverence day is being observed to pay glowing tribute to the heroes and express unflinching solidarity with their families.

The prime minister regretted and condemned the May 9 violence and desecration of martyrs’ monuments, saying that the incidents gave the enemy a reason to celebrate.

“Our nation knows how to protect the honour of their martyrs. [...] Today we revive and reiterate our pledge to uphold the honour and respect of our Shuhada. The essence of Pakistan’s existence lies in the spiritual covenant between its people and the martyrs,” the PM wrote on Twitter.

The Inter-Services Puplic Relations (ISPR), meanwhile, in a statement said: “Shuhada-e-Pakistan are our heroes and a great asset, whose ultimate sacrifices can never be allowed to be demeaned or undermined by anyone.”

The ISPR said the sacrifices of Shuhada are eternal, will continue to inspire future generations of countrymen and will never be forgotten, irrespective of vicious propaganda by the enemies of Pakistan.

“Today is a day for the entire nation to commemorate and honour each and every Shaheed of the Armed Forces, Law Enforcement Agencies and the Civil Society,” the media wing of Pakistan Army said.

The ISPR said Pakistani nation takes pride and solemnly pledges to remain deeply indebted to them and their proud families. Shuhada were, are and will continue to be our pride, come what may.

To observe the day, the main ceremony was held at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi.

Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir visited the martyrs’ monument, laid a floral wreath and offered fateha. Later, prominent personalities also laid floral wreathes at the martyrs’ monument.

They included amongst others the families of martyrs, students, senior veterans, the inspector general Islamabad Police, the Anti Narcotics Force director general, Rawalpindi regional police officer, Islamabad chief commissioner, Rawalpindi commissioner, Mufti Muneebur Rehman and Maulana Abdul Khabeer Azad, captain of Pakistan cricket team Babar Azam, Vice-Captain Muhammad Rizwan and newscaster Ishrat Fatima.

Former army chief Gen (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa, former chairman joint chiefs of staff committee Gen (retd) Nadeem Raza were also present.

Meanwhile, separate ceremonies were held at the Naval and PAF headquarters in Islamabad. At the Naval headquarters, naval chief Admiral Amjad Khan Niazi laid a floral wreath at the martyrs’ monument. At the PAF headquarters, Air Chief Marshal Zaheer Ahmad Babar laid a floral wreath at the martyrs’ monument. A ceremony was also held at the JS Headquarters, Rawalpindi, where floral wreaths were laid at the martyrs’ monument.

Meanwhile, addressing the convocation of the second MBBS batch at Fazaia Medical College, Islamabad, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said the nation is highly indebted to the services of all branches of the Armed Forces in terms of provision of medical relief during natural disasters.

“Their participation in disaster-relief operations is well-acknowledged internationally and is a valuable means of public diplomacy for Pakistan,” he said.

He expressed his confidence over this tradition of service to the nation and humanity at large further strengthening in times to come.

Bilawal said Pakistan’s foreign policy has been guided by national interests, pragmatism and constructive engagement, amicably managing divergences and maximising commonality of interests. “Our focus is to emphasise on the areas on which we agree rather than to obsess about the areas where we disagree,” he said.

Bilawal said it is a matter of great satisfaction that despite the enormous challenges faced by Pakistan at the domestic, economic and international fronts, we have been able to advance the foreign policy interests of Pakistan.

The foreign minister said the recent achievements on the diplomatic front include Pakistan’s exit from the FATF grey list, our key role in creating the Loss and Damage Fund at COP27 for countries impacted by climate-related calamities, global recognition of Pakistan’s leadership at G-77 in China as well as our stewardship of the OIC as chair of the Council of Foreign Ministers.

Addressing the students, the PPP chairman said that we are the heirs of a rich and diverse civilisation. “We are the heirs of the ancient Indus Valley civilization, the gateway of Islam to Asia and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founding father of our nation who has the unique privilege to be amongst the very few who not only charted a course of their own history but the contours of this great country for us,” he said.

Bilawal also congratulated the Fazaia Medical College for the progress that it has made in the past seven years in terms of making a mark as a medical institution with high standing on a national and international level. He said the achievements speak for the dedication and untiring efforts and excellence of the FMC faculty, staff, support of the leadership of the FMC and Air University.