Despite an exodus of stalwarts, three Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders — Yasmin Rashid, Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed, and Omar Sarfaraz Cheema — have resolved that they will stay with the Imran Khan-led party.
Following the party workers' May 9 attacks, which came in the aftermath of Khan's arrest, several party leaders have parted ways with the PTI chief and some have either "quit" or taken "a break" from politics.
All three members whose vows came Thursday have been behind bars for several days as several leaders and thousands of party workers were rounded up for their alleged involvement in the May 9 attacks.
When Rashid was presented before a court today, she was asked if she would follow suit as Fawad Chaudhry and others have left the party.
"I am not leaving. I am standing with PTI [...] I am standing with Imran and I am not going anywhere," she stressed.
Rasheed, while talking to journalists outside an anti-terrorism court, said leaving PTI is "unthinkable".
"Despite all the difficulties, I will stand with Imran Khan and PTI," he said and when asked about Fawad, he responded: "khas kam jahan pak [an Urdu phrase used for getting rid of someone].”
In a brief response to reporters, Cheema said: “I am a worker of the party and I will stand with it.”
Just a day earlier, the party’s now former senior vice president Fawad said he unequivocally condemns May 9 incidents and has decided to take a break from politics.
“Therefore, I have resigned from my party position and parted ways with Imran Khan,” he added.
Asad Umar, a close confidant of Khan, also left his party leadership position as he resigned from the office of secretary general and stepped down as the core committee member.
Several party leaders and lawmakers — including Shireen Mazari, Aamir Mehmood Kiani, Malik Amin Aslam, Mahmood Moulvi, Aftab Siddiqui, Fayyazul Hassan Chohan among others — have publicly denounced the attacks on the state installations and announced leaving the former ruling party since the May 9 vandalism.
Tensions between Khan and the government escalated following the attacks on military installations, with the army and incumbent rulers vowing to try violent protesters in military courts — a move that has drawn criticism from rights organisations.
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said the federal government was considering imposing a ban on the PTI after receiving evidence that the party’s supporters carried out “pre-planned” and “coordinated” attacks on public properties and military installations.