According to a PTI leader, Imran Khan will not minus himself at this stage
ISLAMABAD: PTI Chairman Imran Khan and party’s Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi do not really like each other but, as luck would have it, the latter is the most likely option, acceptable to those who matter, to lead the PTI in the absence of the former. There are no confirmed reports about Qureshi’s interactions with powerful quarters during his post-May 9 stay in the Adiala Jail under the MPO (Maintenance of Public Order) but there are talks within important government circles about Qureshi leading the PTI. “Shah Mehmood Qureshi will lead the PTI minus Imran Khan,” an official source said.
When asked about the reported bitter meeting between the two on Wednesday at the Zaman Park residence of Imran Khan, he said, “It does not matter.” According to another official source, “Our information is that both Khan and Qureshi do not like each other but they are together for their respective political interests.” Interestingly, Qureshi is also suspected within the PTI of having contacts with the relevant quarters yet Imran Khan recently announced that in case of his arrest, Qureshi would lead the party. Imran Khan fears that he can be arrested anytime. With his arrest, it is said, the minus-Imran Khan process will technically start, paving the way for the emergence of Qureshi as PTI’s head.
According to a PTI leader, Imran Khan will not minus himself at this stage and before his arrest, to save the party from further desertions of its second and third-tier leaders. Qureshi, the PTI leader said on condition of not being named, can have the lead role only after Khan’s arrest or conviction in any case. Qureshi, it is said, may not be a popular leader for PTI followers and ranks and file but his acceptability to the powers that be, makes him most suitable to save the party from further damage. Even within the PTI, there is a realisation, in view of the present tough situation for the party, that the likes of Murad Saeed, who according to Imran Khan will be the future leader of PTI, will also not be acceptable.
According to The News report published on Thursday, the meeting between Khan and Qureshi on Wednesday ended in bitterness. After the meeting, Qureshi left for Karachi to look after his ailing wife. The report, while referring to a close friend of Qureshi in Multan, claimed that the PTI vice chairman advised Imran Khan to retreat for the time being, go abroad, or at least maintain silence if he doesn’t want to leave the country. Qureshi also asked the PTI chairman to let him and others settle the issues and let pardoning be done in the meantime. He further told Khan that the latter could take over the party again when everything had been set right. The report said that after an unpleasant meeting with Qureshi, Imran Khan repeated in a video address most of what he had been saying and vowed not to back off and to fight till his last breath. Official sources are not worried about what went wrong between the two. They are quite confident that Qureshi will lead the PTI minus Imran Khan.