Salafi-Jihadi Movement Update Special Edition: Protests in Pakistan, May 10, 2023
Authors: Peter Mills, Kathryn Tyson, and Brian Carter
Data Cutoff: May 10, 2023 at 3:00 p.m. ET
Figure 1. Protests and Salafi-Jihadi Attacks in Pakistan
Source: Kathryn Tyson and Peter Mills.
The crisis resulting from the arrest of former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and the eruption of violent protests against the Pakistani military is deepening. Hostility between Khan’s Tehrik-e-Insaf Party (PTI) and the Pakistani military is causing PTI protesters to deliberately target military and police infrastructure across Pakistan. Demonstrators set fire to multiple police stations in Islamabad and exchanged small arms fire with Pakistani security forces outside the Frontier Corps’ headquarters in Peshawar on May 10. Relations between Imran Khan and the Pakistani military have deteriorated since at least late 2021 when Imran Khan refused to approve senior Pakistani military appointments. Khan claimed that the Pakistani military and United States helped to remove him from office after an April 2022 vote of no-confidence, and separately accused Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence Major General Faisal Naseer of an assassination attempt against Khan in November 2022. PTI supporters burned down Naseer’s home on May 10.
The Pakistani government may choose to expand its crackdown against the PTI in response to attacks on the military, which could exacerbate the protests and open new security gaps that Salafi-jihadi groups could exploit. Pakistani security forces arrested high-level PTI leaders, and the Pakistani cabinet discussed declaring a state of emergency on May 10. The Pakistani prime minister called PTI protesters “terrorists” on May 10, suggesting the Pakistani government is preparing to crack down on unrest further. Pakistani military deployments to suppress protests on May 10 will constrain Pakistan’s ability to counter the Salafi-jihadi threat. The Pakistani military deployed to assist local security forces with quelling protests in Balochistan, Islamabad, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Punjab Provinces. Pakistan’s military capacity is already limited, and the government announced military expenditure cuts on April 26. The deployments could further delay a nationwide counter–Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan campaign which Pakistan’s chief of army staff announced on April 7.
Protests in Pakistan, May 10, 2023:
PTI Protests Punjab Province
Lahore, Punjab Province
- Notes: Pakistan Police raided the PTI’s Central Punjab office and arrested multiple party workers. PTI Protestors set fire to the Askari Tower and the Pakistani Muslim League Nawaz Secretariat Building in Lahore’s Model Town neighborhood. PTI supporters protested outside Lahore military cantonment and chanted slogans against the military. PTI supporters accused Pakistani security forces of raiding Imran Khan’s residence at Zaman Park.
Mianwali, Punjab Province
- Notes: The Punjab government ordered reinforcements to Mianwali after multiple attacks on local police. PTI protestors clashed with police in Kamar Mashani village in Mianwali district and burned down the police station. Pro-PTI sources claimed that security forces killed three civilians while a local source said three were injured. Security forces used tear gas and live rounds to disperse crowds.  Internet access is restricted in Mianwali.
Multan, Punjab Province
- Notes: PTI supporters protested and blocked roads in Multan. PTI social media claimed Pakistani police arrested a local PTI parliamentary candidate.
Rawalpindi, Punjab Province
- Notes: PTI supporters blocked roads and marched towards the Police Lines headquarters in Islamabad where Imran Khan is being detained.
Bahawalpur, Punjab province
- Notes: PTI sources claim Pakistani Police have begun operations to arrest PTI Leadership and protestors. PTI protestors continue to close the Sutlej Bridge and N5 Highway heading north toward Multan.
Attock, Punjab Province
- Notes: PTI protestors clashed with police, leading to ten injured officers and one burned police vehicle.
Sialkot, Punjab Province
- Notes: PTI protestors clashed with Pakistani police injuring several officers and burning police vehicles.
Bhakkar, Punjab Province
- Notes: PTI protestors set two police vehicles on fire.
Gujranwala, Punjab province
- Notes: PTI protestors clashed with Pakistani police, injuring a dozen officers and burning several police vehicles. Pakistani police fired warning shots to try and disperse protestors. PTI supporters claim they continue to occupy the Gujranwala military cantonment.
Faisalabad, Punjab Province
- Notes: PTI protestors clashed with Pakistani police, injuring police officers and burning a dozen police vehicles. Pakistani police used teargas against protestors in the Sadar Bazar.
Khanewal, Punjab Province
- Notes: PTI protestors blocked the Khanewal highway and other major roads.
Burewala, Punjab Province:
- Notes: PTI protestors clashed with police.
Dera Ghazi Khan, Punjab Province:
- Notes: PTI protestors held rallies and blocked roads.
- Notes: PTI supporters claim they advanced on Fort Monroe in Dera Ghazi Khan District.
PTI Protests Islamabad
- Notes: PTI supporters marched on the police station in Islamabad where Imran Khan is being held. Unidentified persons set fire to the SP Industrial Area. Islamabad police reported PTI supporters set Ramana police station on fire. Pakistani Army and Rangers entered Islamabad to assist local police in controlling protests.
- Notes: PTI protestors set fire to ISI Maj. Gen. and Director General of Counterintelligence Faisal Naseer’s house.
Islamabad – Srinagar Highway
- Notes: PTI supporters blocked the highway connecting Islamabad to Srinagar, Kashmir, and clashed with police
PTI Protests Khyber Pakhtunkwa Province
Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkwa Province
- Notes: PTI protestors advanced on the Frontier Corps’ headquarters at Bala Hisar and clashed with security forces. PTI protestors looted weapons stores and exchanged small arms fire with Pakistani security forces. PTI protestors set a police vehicle on fire. 
- Notes: PTI protestors ransacked and set fire to the Radio Pakistan Peshawar building. PTI officials denied responsibility and said "miscreants” caused the damage.
- Notes: PTI protestors ransacked the provincial election commission building.
Kohat, Khyber Pakhtunkwa Province
- Notes: Pakistani armed forces fired on PTI protestors leaving two dead and three wounded. 
Bajaur, Khyber Pakhtunkwa Province
- Notes: PTI supporters protested and blocked major roads.
Dir, Khyber Pakhtunkwa Province
- Notes: PTI supporters protested and blocked streets in Dir city. Unverified social media accounts reported protestors destroyed Pakistani military safehouses and facilities.
Swat, Khyber Pakhtunkwa Province
- Notes: PTI supporters claimed pro-PTI protests in Swat Valley.
Torkham, Khyber Pakhtunkwa Province
- Notes: PTI protestors blocked Torkham road connection Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Unidentified, Khyber Pakhtunkwa Province
- Notes: PTI protestors waved flags and fired guns in the air at an unidentified location within Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.
PTI Protests Balochistan Province
Quetta, Balochistan Province
- Notes: Pro-PTI protestor vandalized Quetta military checkpoint.
PTI Protests Sindh Province
Sindh province imposed Section 144 banning public gatherings.
Karachi, Sindh Province
- Notes: PTI protestors attempted to gather at local PTI headquarters but were blocked by Pakistani security forces. PTI protestors later gathered at Millenium mall and blocked major roads, clashing with police.
An unidentified militant likely affiliated with a militant nationalist group attempted to detonate a suicide vest in Karachi on May 10.
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