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'Never thought it would come to this': Murad Raas joins long list of PTI deserters

"We do not believe in PTI's politics of violence," former Punjab minister says

By Web Desk
May 26, 2023
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Murad Raas addresses a press conference in Lahore on May 26, 2023, in this still taken from a video. — YouTube/@GeoNews
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Murad Raas addresses a press conference in Lahore on May 26, 2023, in this still taken from a video. — YouTube/@GeoNews

Murad Raas, former Punjab education minister and a provincial leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Friday announced that he was quitting the Imran Khan-led party due to the May 9 mayhem.

Addressing a press conference in Lahore on Friday, Raas said no amount of condemnation was enough for what happened on May 9. "We never thought we would part ways with the party," he said alongside other leaders, including Pir Ahmad Khagga, Raja Yawar Kamal and Chaudhry Adnan.

He laid the blame for the party's current predicament — facing intense criticism with scores of leaders and thousands of workers arrested across the country following the riots — on Khan's advisers in Lahore.

"We do not believe in the PTI's politics of violence," the former provincial minister said. 

Raas said he and other politicians present at the press conference had decided to form a group so work on Pakistan's progress could continue. 

Earlier today, another PTI leader and former special assistant to the Punjab chief minister Firdous Ashiq Awan also announced her exit from the party.

Condemning the May 9 violence, she claimed that it was planned at Khan's Zaman Park residence. 

In a separate press conference in Faisalabad, former member of the National Assembly Khurram Shehzad said he was also quitting the Khan-led party.

"I am resigning from my post as the deputy secretary-general. Whatever happened on May 9 is condemnable. We can never forget the sacrifices of the Pakistan Army."

The heat

Khan’s party has been feeling the heat of the state’s might after his enraged PTI workers attacked military installations, including the Lahore Corps Commanders House and the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi after his arrest on May 9 — a day the army dubbed as “Black Day”.

Several party leaders and thousands of workers have been rounded up in connection with the violent protests and the army has insisted that the people involved in attacks on military installations be tried under the Pakistan Army Act and the Official Secrets Act.

A close aide of Khan, Asad Umar, has relinquished his posts of secretary general and core committee member, citing the ongoing situation.

Several party leaders and lawmakers — including Shireen Mazari, Aamir Mehmood Kiani, Malik Amin Aslam, Mahmood Moulvi, Aftab Siddiqui, Fayyazul Hassan Chohan, Maleeka Bokhari, and Mussarrat and Jamshed Cheema among others — have publicly denounced the attacks on the state installations and announced leaving the former ruling party since the May 9 vandalism.

Meanwhile, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif has 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.