09 May is 06 Jan of Pakistan
06 Jan was Trump’s attack on Capitol Hill to derail democracy to stay in power by refusing to accept election results. 09 May was Imran’s attack on democracy to get back into power by refusing to accept democratic process of vote of no confidence, unlawfully intimidating state institutions and demanding elections in 90 days in spite of 4-3 Supreme Court order. Pakistan can learn from America’s dealing with 06 Jan to overcome 09 May challenge by permanently avoiding any foreign interference while keeping it apolitical including banning political party. The Supreme Court will take care of itself internally in due course.
The attacks on civil and military installations show they were planned. Despite repeated calls in the media, PTI leadership failed to condemn the attacks outrightly. It was 90 per cent evasive and the remaining 10 per cent was mere lip service. Imran confirmed the policy with his statements that if arrested again, it will be repeated. State must establish its writ under rule of law showing the world like America that no one is above the law.
After the 06 Jan investigation, the American Congress recommended criminal investigation against Trump with 17 findings including making deliberately false claims and plotting to overturn election results. Judges across the US handed over stiff jail terms, fines, or both to Trump supporters. Q Anonshaman (horned headdress) got 41 months jail time, Kentucky man with criminal record 14 years in jail. Government servants, members of armed forces and law enforcement were removed from the job.
Trump’s far-right Oath Keepers militia members were charged with obstruction on 06 Jan. They were also convicted of conspiracy stemming from an insurrection at the Capitol in a failed effort to keep Trump in office. Proud Boys are facing 20 years sentences as Trump’s waiting army ready for all-out war to keep him in power irrespective of the law and courts. Its members are accused of orchestrating it from afar. Trump is on record telling the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” during his first debate with Biden.
The PTI leadership deceived the party in the name of democracy. Like American groups, the plan behind the creation and use on 09 May of Insaf Tigers, Insaf Lawyers Forum and Insaf media is clear. The media censorship during the PTI term was part of the strategy. American courts punished Trump’s militia and his army for their role in 06 Jan so should PTIs youth wings, legal teams and social media. The Black Day of 09 May explains Imran’s statement of becoming ‘Khatrenak’ or dangerous.
The US Congress was able to start the accountability process immediately with Biden taking over. It helped Biden bring the National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism in June 2021 with the message that together we must affirm that domestic terrorism has no place in our society. In Pakistan’s case, the process should have started soon after the vote of no confidence to avoid this situation. Now it is the duty of our parliament to help the PM unite the country with a strategy.
America has shown how it used Congress, Courts and the President to restore law and order. Biden is running the country smoothly. Lawmakers played their role in Congress. They established the case of 06 Jan with evidence. Department of Justice and Judiciary did their part in punishing 978 people charged and arrested for multiple crimes related to the attack from all 50 states. Almost 50 percent (465) pleaded guilty, 335 have received sentencing and 185 will serve time in prison (07 Jan 2023, the Forbes).
According to George Washington University’s Project on Extremism, the median age of the defendants is 39, with over 86% identifying as male and the majority coming from Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, New York and California. As per the Department of Justice, over 260 people have been charged with more serious crimes relating to planning, assaulting or impeding law enforcement. John Schaffer, a member of the Oath Keepers faces up to 30 years in prison on sedition charges. It exposes opposition to sedition charges in Pakistan.
The House Committee overseeing the January 6 investigation issued over 100 subpoenas to people including members of Congress, opposition leader, White House officials, former chief of staff, wife of SC Justice, VP, Trump and his family members. The committee also issued subpoenas to multiple companies like Reddit, Meta and Twitter where it suspected communication regarding the riot took place.
The American format is tested and credible. The basic idea is to keep the accountability process apolitical, stop international interference and prevent any further fallout. The law should take its course to end using street power to subvert democracy to become PM and use force to intimidate state, its institutions and their commanders. Parliament should form a 09 May Committee to complete the process in next 60-90 days to help the PM, Justice Ministry, Judiciary and media uphold rule of law, educate the public on 09 May to end abuse of power by all parties, respect the state and its institutions, preserve democracy and democratic accountability.
—The writer is senior political analyst based in Islamabad.
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