KARACHI: With several Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) loyalists jumping ships in the aftermath of the May 9 riots, former Sindh governor Imran Ismail also Saturday announced his departure from the party, moments after his release from jail.
The PTI leader, condemning the May 9 protests that erupted after PTI Chairman Imran Khan's arrest, spoke in support of the Pakistan Army and criticised the former ruling party's anti-establishment tirade.
Addressing his "last political press conference", Ismail said that his affiliation and ties with Khan were very good. He recalled the time when the PTI was formed, saying he was very young and was part of a group of three to four people who laid the party's foundation.
"I always chased the dream of making Pakistan a better country and we got that chance when our party came into power in 2018. We decided to struggle and take part in the elections once again. We saw a lot of things from public rallies to attack Imran Khan but then we saw a diversion," he added.
He said that a narrative started building that the PTI is against the Pakistan Army, which a lot of leaders were uncomfortable with.
"A lot of people advised Imran Khan while many also spoke against it. We used a lot of names 'Mr X', 'Dirty Harry' and hence, the public had a perspective that the PTI is against the army," he continued.
Speaking about the "evil" May 9 riots that erupted after the PTI chief's arrest in the Al-Qadir Trust case, Ismail said that the attacks happened on the General Head Quarters (GHQ), Corps Commander House, and the memories of the martyrs.
He said that whoever was a part of these attacks should be inquired — whether that person belongs to the PTI or not.
The former Sindh governor spoke in support of the army, saying that he was not a part of the riots and that the FIR against him was "baseless".
"After giving it a lot of thought, I have decided to step down from all PTI positions. I am leaving PTI and I don't know if I will continue to remain active in politics. Today, I say goodbye to Imran Khan and PTI," he concluded.
Earlier today, an anti-terrorist court ordered the release of the former Sindh governor after approving a report by the police declaring him "innocent".
Ismail was arrested in the case pertaining to vandalism and riots violent protest on Sharea Faisal, which erupted as a result of PTI Chairman Imran Khan's arrest on May 9.
The court ordered the PTI leader's release against surety bonds worth Rs50,000 and issued his release orders as well.
The investigation officer, in the report submitted to the ATC, stated that no evidence was found against the former governor in relation to the riots.
The police said that the PTI leader was arrested in the case of inciting violence and arson following Khan's arrest by the Tipu Sultan police.
Former Punjab home minister Muhammad Hashim Dogar also announced cutting ties with the Imran Khan-led PTI.
Addressing a press conference, Dogar said that those involved in the heartbreaking incidents of May 9 should be punished as the "Pakistan Army is our red line".
Earlier today, PTI's former Sindh president Ali Zaidi also jumped ship after announcing to quit politics and resigned from party positions.
In a video message, Zaidi said that he had joined politics for Pakistan and had already condemned the May 9 incidents.
“Pakistan’s armed forces are our pride and because of them, we sleep peacefully because they protect our borders. What happened [on May 9] was very wrong and everyone should be held accountable whoever may be involved in it,” said the PTI leader, who was shifted to Jacobabad jail last week.
The former federal minister said that after a lot of thinking he took the “difficult decision” of leaving politics.
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