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    Completion of one year of May 9 tragedy: Time to forge unity against inimical forces; award exemplary punishment to attackers, abettors

    Completion of one year of May 9 tragedy: Time to forge unity against inimical forces; award exemplary punishment to attackers, abettors

    PESHAWAR (APP): It was a bright sunny day in the bustling city of Peshawar on May 9, 2023 where traffic was plying on Khyber Road smoothly prior to blockage of Sher Shah Suri bridge for all kinds of transport by the violent mob protesting against arrest of PTI founder in Al-Qadar Trust corruption case.

    As the sun rays started warming the city’s temperature on that fateful day, the charged rioters gathered in front of the Sher Shah Suri bridge near KP assembly and started moving towards Red Zone where important Govt offices and security installations including civil secretariat, supreme court registry, Peshawar High Court, central police office, met office and corps commander house were located.

    Upon stoppage by Peshawar police, the rioters started pelting stones on law enforcers and later attacked Radio Pakistan Peshawar for being a soft target after failing to enter the red zone.

    The mob first burnt to ashes the Chagi mountains model at Radio Pakistan’s building constructed in memory of successful nuclear tests by Pakistan on May 28, 1998. Later on May 10, 2023, the mob put on fire the entire PBC building including the office of Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) Peshawar located on its fourth floor and destroyed its furniture, equipment, electric appliances and computers etc completely.

    Ikramullah Marwat, senior producer Radio Pakistan Peshawar told APP that Chagi model with fancy lights had remained a centre of attraction for residents of Peshawar especially on May 28 every year where people from cross section of society came and presented tributes to the scientists of the nuclear program and former Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif for the successful atomic tests at Chagi Balochistan 26 year ago that made Pakistan defense impregnable.

    Later on May 10, 2023, he said the miscreants attacked the Radio Pakistan Peshawar and put the entire four storey building on fire in a jiffy as it black smoke was seen from the entire city. Sahibzada Abdul Qayyum auditorium of Radio Pakistan having the capacity of 350 people was also badly damaged.

    Besides the theft of computers and other valuables, the violent mob also looted awards besides destroyed digital records, rare dramas scripts and music recorders of the national broadcaster.

    “The PBC’s assault had exposed the barbaric mindset of attackers, who tried to deprive hundreds of thousands of its listeners from information, entertainment and education services,” said Ikramullah.

    Despite the horrific incident, he said Radio Pakistan Peshawar had kept alive the torch of information, education and infotainment services and restored its transmission within 24 hours after the attack. The national broadcaster continued its programs for its millions of listeners starting from 1935 till todate.

     “Resumption of transmission was a big challenge for the entire staff of PBC after the attack. However, with strong commitment and collective efforts of our staff, we were able to resume its transmission within 24 hours after the assault, and continued providing services to its millions of listeners even in that challenging time,” said Muhammad Tufail, Station Director, PBC Peshawar while talking to APP.

    He said its popular programs include Karwan, Prime Time (both urdu and pashto) and Rang Peshawar (hindko) besides Kar Kela started for farmers in 1967 and hindara (pashto current affairs program) launched in 1979 were quickly restarted upon people’s request.

    The hindara and hujra programs had successfully countered malicious propaganda of the Radio Kabul after the USSR invaded Afghanistan in 1979 and highlighted problems of millions of the Afghans refugees in an effective way.

    Famous broadcasters, Abdullah Jan Maghmoom and Shehzad Johar acted in ‘Paynda Khan and Towakal Khan’ characters and effectively raised the negative impact of Afghans War on peace and development of the region.

    In 1980, millions of people listened to hindara program due to the excellent scripts, contents, objectivity and dialogue delivery of renowned compares, Inayatulllah Gul and Taj Nabi.

    “Being voice of the nation, the national broadcaster was attacked by the rioters in a bid to stop it from spreading truth and deprive million listers from infotainment services,’ said Tufail.

    Ikram Marwat said although radio archives mostly remained safe, tapes records that were put on computers were either damaged or taken away by the mob which was a great loss.

    PMLN leader and former Minister, Wajid Ali Khan said that it was not only an attack on Radio Pakistan and Associated Press of Pakistan but also on the security institutions of the country.

    “May 9 vandalism had exposed the ugly face of the attacker before the nation. The assault on GHQ Rawalpindi and Punjab Regimental Centre Mardan and putting on fire a historic plane near PAF base Mianwali were highly condemnable and culprits should be given exemplary punishment.”

    He said the miscreants had crossed all the limits on May 9 after severely damaging the martyrs’ monument at Sirgodha and ransacked Jinnah House Lahore.

    Apart from these gory incidents, he said the ancient monuments along with security installations at Rawalpindi, Lahore, Abbottabad, Mianwali, Sargodha, Peshawar and Mardan were also damaged. He said May 9, 2023 vandalism had been unprecedented unlawful acts besides highly condemnable actions and demanded that culprits involved should be given strict punishment under the laws.

    The PMLN leader said that killing of about 100 people and injuring hundred others during May 9 rioting had shown attackers’ disregard for humanity.

    He highly praised the armed forces of Pakistan for showing great restraint by noting using power against May 9 rioting and thus saved the country from further chaos.

    The experts said that May 9 vandalism had raised many questions including whether attacks on security and national installations are justifiable in case of an arrest of a political leader or putting him in jail in corruption cases.

    They also questioned whether our political leaders are capable enough to quickly respond and counter such untoward incidents in the country in future.

    Underlining the need for training of political workers, the experts urged political parties to focus on training of its workers to avert May 9 tragedy in future. They also expressed the hope that PTI founder would also help politically train his workers.

    They said time has come that miscreants involved in May 9 vandalism could not escape from clutches of law and exemplary punishment may be awarded to attackers, facilitators and abettors involved in assaults on government and security installations so that no one could dare to even think about such gory incidents in future.

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