Justice Yahya Afridi did not say 9 May 2023 protestors were the “government’s people”
A rhetorical statement made by Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan in a case against the 9 May protestors was taken out of context to claim that Justice Afridi believes the 9 May 2023 protestors were not shot at because they were the “government’s people”.
Claim: Justice Yahya Afridi said that the 9 May rioters were not shot at because they were “government’s people”.
Fact: This statement is falsely attributed to Justice Yahya Afridi. It was however a rhetorical statement made by Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, in a case against the 9 May protestors. That statement was misconstrued to convey that Justice Yahya Afridi believes that 9 May protestors were not shot at because they were in cahoots with the government.
On 5 August 2023, Soch Fact Check received an image on WhatsApp with a request to fact-check it. The image included the following statement, “[Translation] Those who attacked defense monuments (military installations) on 9th May were not shot because they were the government’s people”, alongside a photograph of Supreme Court Justice Yahya Afridi and a Neo News logo at the bottom.
On 3 August 2023, Neo News Urdu shared the same image on their X (formerly Twitter) account but with a slightly different statement right next to the photograph of Justice Afridi: “[Translation] Why were those who attacked defense monuments (military installations) on 9 May not shot?”
On 9 May, violent protests and riots broke out in Pakistan, following the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan on corruption charges. Khan’s supporters, belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, clashed with the police and the military in several cities, including Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, and Peshawar.
A group of civilians also charged against the Corps Commander House in Lahore, also known as the Jinnah House. In the aftermath of these incidents, the State of Pakistan has attempted to accuse civilians of conspiring to cause the riots and protests on 9 May, under the Pakistan Army Secrets Act.
Fact or Fiction?
Both statements have been falsely attributed to Justice Yahya Afridi. Soch Fact Check found that on 3 August 2023, Neo News, along with We News and Nawa-e-Waqt covered the same hearing for the case against trying civilians in military courts. Neither of them reported Justice Yahya Afridi to have said the civilians were not shot at because they were from the government, nor did he question why they were not shot at.
In fact, both news websites reported that in a hearing for a case against trying civilian protestors fir 9 May riots and protests in military courts, Attorney General of Pakistan Mansoor Usman Aiwan asked sarcastically if the military personel stationed at the check-posts should have registered FIRs at the nearest police station. He added that they are trained to shoot the attacker. To this statement, Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan responded: “Then why did you not shoot them?”
Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial took note of this exchange and remarked that this incident was a serious one but Aitzaz Ahsan repeated his question and added, “I would never want this to happen. We have to defend the citizens of Pakistan and stop the illegal practices by the military.”
However, contrary to this the Neo News article linked a misconstrued version of these statements to Justice Yahya Afridi.
Conclusion: A doctored screenshot and a Neo News bulletin falsely linked a misconstrued statement to the Supreme Court judge, Justice Yahya Afridi.
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