May 9 Black Day: Pakistan Army Demands Justice from the State

May 9 Black Day: Pakistan Army Demands Justice from the State

Shazia Anwer Cheema

There is a cliché that has been promoted by politicians and civil bureaucracy that whatever happens in Pakistan, it is the Pakistan Army that does it. In simple words, it has been propagated that this is the Army that controls everything in Pakistan. However, I have been writing for years that this rhetoric is a deep intrigue against the Army. Strangely the Army had been happy with this cliché without considering that this line suits incompetent politicians and ineffectual as well as corrupt civil bureaucracy.


Whatever has happened in the last year during the post-May 9 era should be an eye opener for the public that families of martyrs and military personnel are waiting for justice although one year has passed and on May 7, 2024, Director General Inter Service Public Relations (ISPR) Maj-Gen Ahmed Sharif rightly presented the case of Army in the court of public.

He was justified in saying that if an attack was launched on its armed forces or the monuments and symbols of martyrs in any other country, the culprits could have been penalized within weeks. He was also justified to say that hatred has been created between the forces and the people and if the people behind this planning are not brought to justice, then there is a question mark on that country’s justice system. One should remember civilian bureaucracy, civilian judiciary, and the civilian government that is responsible for the justice system in the country. Pakistan is known for indefinite delays in providing justice and Pakistan is a country where one can say that there is always a delay in providing justice therefore it (justice) is always denied.

The semiotic analysis of his press talk indicates that a delay of one year in getting justice is creating frustration among families of martyrs as well as officers of the Pakistan Army whose honor was attacked ruthlessly but still, the institution has full confidence in the justice system of the country as the DGISPR said “We believe that if we have to maintain trust in the justice system of Pakistan, then the May 9 perpetrators, the doers and those commanding them, must be sentenced according to the Constitution and the law.”

There is nothing hidden about the May 9 incident and everybody in Pakistan knows the series of events that culminated in the May 9 Mutiny however many of May 9 perpetrators are sitting in the Parliament although they should have been in prison. Lawbreakers of May 9 should have seen their fate if there had been a single Presidential Ordinance that could be enforced just after May 9, 2023. This Presidential Ordinance could shorten the process of justice and within the six-month tenure of the Ordinance, culprits could have been fixed for what they had done with this country. Regrettably, the PDM government which introduced different Presidential Ordinances and laws to bail its leadership out of legal cases, did not introduce any special law to penalize culprits of May 9.

I believe taking the culprits of May 9 Black Day to task was not the priority of the PDM government. There is a saying that if there is a will, there is a way. Not only this, perpetrators and offenders were free to introduce the false narrative that the events of May 9 were a ‘false flag operation’ where the victim (Pakistan Army) was portrayed as the felon of the events. It was done through the deep-rooted foreign-sponsored PTI media cells but partially it was done due to a lukewarm response and failed media management of the PDM government. Whatever happened in the last year has surely exposed that this is a wrong perception that everything that happens in Pakistan, happens according to the wishes of the Pakistan Army. In many instances, the Pakistan Army has been victimized by the civilian system but was shy to share its vulnerability in the past.

One of the prime examples in the recent past is the resettlement of TTP terrorists in Pakistan which was designed and decided by the then prime minister Imran Khan he took responsibility for this mess also but the then military leadership shared the responsibility by sending a message among masses that the military was also on board because nothing could be done in Pakistan without the permission of the Army. This approach of placing itself higher than any system in the past like a Chaudhary (landlord) of any village caused havoc to the institution of the Pakistan Army. In our villages, Chaudhary Sahib portrays that nothing can happen in his village without his permission and his knowledge, even though Chaudhary Sahib has no control over many things. The concept of Chaudharat (the sole power within the system) sometimes causes unbearable loss of reputation to Chaudhary Sahib and this exactly had happened several times with the Pakistan Army but it refrained from sharing with the public that it was not the Army who decided this or who decided that. It has been seen in the past that blunders were committed by civil bureaucracy and politicians but the majority of the public held the Army responsible for such blunders because the narrative had been built in Pakistan that “nothing can happen without the wishes of the Army”. This narrative that might have been useful in the past is now helping the enemies of the country who are holding the Pakistan Army responsible for all social ills and economic collapse while politicians and civil bureaucracy are indirectly helping to promote the same as it suits them. They always point fingers at the Army for everything that happens in the country.

We all know that a state is a social contact between its citizens and administrative apparatus. Unfortunately, Pakistan inherited its politicians and bureaucracy from colonialism, a mindset fundamentally designed for oppression. Of course, as a byproduct Pakistan has accumulated a plethora of dysfunctionalities; some of them contingent enough that we Pakistanis have learned to live with them. The Western concept of democracy advocates a much-celebrated definition of a government by the people for the people have never provided the slightest resemblance of Pakistani democracy, primarily it is treated as a divine right by few to rule interchangeably. No layman ever conceived the idea of becoming part of it mainly because it is an expensive business correlated with ruthless use of power. On the other hand, bureaucratic machinery continued operating on the same British-defined frame of work for its colonies till today which is based on a scapegoating formula and the Pakistan Army offers itself to become a sacrificial goat whenever anything goes wrong in administering the country. A state that must provide its citizens with basic needs keeps crumbling in the hands of bureaucratic and political red-tapism. Instead of systematic overhauling and structural reforms the guilty parties unanimously preferred playing innocent and methodically ingrained the idea of them being powerless. This narrative can only prevail if they can identify the powerful which they of course did. Via public discourse, politicians usually shift the blame and identify the Pakistan Army as an absolute power and bureaucrats joined the bandwagon. I always wonder why this narrative was not countered promptly by the blamed party, maybe for the time being the idea of being all-powerful felt good and the aftermath of this rhetorical power would have not been foreseen. The rhetoric proliferated by politicians and cynically amplified by the administrative body, suited Pakistan’s adversaries to the extent that the domino effect of the Pakistan Army being powerful hit the last deck of the Pakistan Army being powerful is the reason for all administrative problems.

There is no doubt the Pakistan Army is powerful but the Pakistan Army for a very long time got cozy with this double-edged narrative and never bothered to react logically. The May 9 Black Day was a brutal reality check of this scapegoating effect. Pakistan Army for the first time realized that it could be a powerful army in an institutional way but it has no real control and authority of trespassing in the administrative and political domain. On the contrary, the Pakistan Army is a victim of psychological warfare launched by enemies but its seeds were sown long before by the politicians and civil bureaucrats under the very nose of Pakistan Army.

Now it is a buzzword on the social media handlers of one of the political parties that whatever wrong Pakistan has is because of the absolute power which is systematically got synonyms to the Pakistan Army. All other political parties are neither denying it nor accepting it but silence cannot hide the fact that a state provides absolute power to its legislators and through them to its administrative body, the military is always an auxiliary to support and protect.

The incompetence of politicians and the colonial mindset of bureaucracy are responsible for what happened on May 9 and are answerable to the nation as to why it happened. After the May 9 attacks, the involvement of one party was silently accepted by other parties and all pretended as if it was something between the Pakistan Army and the agitators and the Pakistan Army would handle it. Even after one year, the culprits are free and continue waging narrative war against the Army.


Shazia Anwer Cheema is an author, and analyst and writes articles for national and international media outlets. She did her M.Phil in Cognitive Semiotics from Aarhus University Denmark and is completing her Ph.D. in Semiotics and Philosophy of Communication at Charles University Prague.


The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk News Agency.

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