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Asad Umar steps down as PTI secretary general, not quitting party

"I am resigning as the secretary general of the PTI and as the core committee member," says Imran Khan's close aide

By Web Desk
May 24, 2023

PTI senior leader Asad Umar addressing the press conference in Islamabad, on May 24, 2023, in this still taken from a video. — YouTube/GeoNews
PTI senior leader Asad Umar addressing the press conference in Islamabad, on May 24, 2023, in this still taken from a video. — YouTube/GeoNews

In a setback for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), secretary general Asad Umar Wednesday stepped down from his position "given the ongoing situation", but decided not to quit the Imran Khan-led former ruling party.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, the former minister said he would also no longer remain a part of the PTI's core committee.

"Given the current situation [...] after May 9, it is not personally possible for me to continue performing my party leadership duties," the senior PTI leader said.

"I am resigning as the secretary general of PTI and as the core committee member. One of the reasons why is [...] I am outspoken and I cannot issue my personal statements if I hold an office."

Umar's press conference comes hours after he was released from Rawalpindi's Adiala Jail on the Islamabad High Court's (IHC) order.

The court had directed the PTI leader to submit an undertaking that he would not become a part of violent protests following his release.

Umar, along with other PTI leaders, was arrested hours after violent riots erupted across the country following party chairman Imran Khan's arrest on May 9 in the Al-Qadir Trust case.

He had been arrested under Section 3 of the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO).

Declaring Umar's arrest null and void today, IHC's Justice Mian Gul Hassan Aurangzeb told the PTI leader to "forget" his political career in case he deviated from the undertaking.

The court also directed him to delete two tweets.

After Khan was arrested from the IHC premises on May 9, enraged PTI supporters had launched violent protests, including attacks on the Lahore Corps Commanders House or Jinnah House and the General Headquarters entrance.

Consequently, the party has been under intense criticism in recent days. Thousands of workers have been arrested and Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir has said that the legal process to try those involved in attacks on military installations under the Pakistan Army Act and the Official Secrets Act has been started.

A slew of leaders has been leaving the PTI since the May 9 violence, including senior vice presidents Fawad Chaudhry and Shireen Mazari. 

'Bid for party chairman?'

Following Umar's announcement journalists questioned whether Umar was going to make a bid for the party chairman position in the future, given that he had not quit the PTI.

"Asad Umar seems to be making a bid for party leadership post Imran," commented Khurram Hussain. 

"So @Asad_Umar not leaving PTI just party positions. Is he being kept to take over from IK?" questioned Mariana Baabar.

Mehreen Zahrah-Malik said Khan had "blown up his party".

Meanwhile, Hamid Mir shared a couplet about loyalty alongside a screengrab from Umar's press conference.