Friday September 29, 2023

Bitter blow to PTI as leaders jump ship over May 9 mayhem

Shireen Mazari, Fayyaz Chohan, Bilal Ahmed Ghaffar, and Omar Omari quit; condemn May 9 incidents

By News Desk & Our Correspondent
May 24, 2023
PTI leader Fayyazul Hassan Chohan and Shireen Mazari, in this still taken from a video on May 23, Tuesday. — YouTube/GeoNews
PTI leader Fayyazul Hassan Chohan and Shireen Mazari, in this still taken from a video on May 23, Tuesday. — YouTube/GeoNews

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Tuesday suffered a severe blow after several of its senior leaders, condemning the May 9 incidents, joined the ongoing exodus from the party. Those resigning from the party heaped blame on party Chairman Imran Khan for trying to pit the people against the army.

The latest quitters include former federal minister Dr Shireen Mazari, former Punjab minister Fayazul Hassan Chohan, former MPAs Jaleel Ahmed Sharaqpuri, Makhdoom Iftikharul Hassan Gillani, Abdul Razak Khan Niazi and MPAs from Sindh Bilal Ahmed Ghaffar and Omar Omari, all of whom strongly condemned the violence against the state institutions and symbols.

Flanked by her daughter Imaan Hazir Mazari and lawyer, PTI’s senior vice-president Dr Shireen Mazari announced the decision during a news conference after release from jail.

Condemning the May 9 incidents, Mazari announced to quit the party as well as active politics, citing personal reasons. She emphasised her family, mother, and children as well as her own health were now her major priorities. Mazari condemned the May 9 incidents of violence and remarked: “I have always condemned every kind of violence, especially against the state institutions and symbols like the General Headquarters, Supreme Court and Parliament. Such violence should be condemned. Violence against such symbols should be condemned and I had done so too.”

She said she had also given an undertaking in the Islamabad High Court. The former federal minister for human rights said she had decided to leave the PTI and active politics after her 12-day arrest and release ordeal, due to her bad health and for the well-being of her daughter Imaan, who had cried so much when she was being taken to jail for the third time.

Separately, at a news conference, Fayazul Hassan Chohan also announced parting ways with the party over his differences with PTI Chairman Imran Khan. He alleged that the PTI chief promoted politics of violence, which he had opposed and conveyed it to him as well.

However, Chohan clarified that he would not leave politics and announce his next plan of action after consulting some PTI leaders and former Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi.

“Today, I am announcing that I have no more association with the PTI, but not quitting politics,” he said.

Chohan claimed that he was the only one who had advised Imran to shun the politics of violence and that he was sidelined in the party over this stance. He alleged that many PTI leaders, including Fawad Chaudhry, Murad Saeed, Ali Amin Gandapur, Musarrat Cheema and Shahbaz Gill, did the most damage to the party by supporting Imran in his anti-army stance.

The ex-minister, who hails from Rawalpindi, also condemned the May 9 incidents of arson and vandalism on military installations and squarely blamed Imran for encouraging party supporters to move towards these installations.

“In every zoom meeting in three-four days, Imran would ask party spokespersons to speak against the army and Bajwa. He would also explain, what should the media be told against them. I tried to speak otherwise, but was given a shut-up call,” he noted.

Chohan recalled that when Imran took out a rally on May 1 for solidarity with labourers, he directed party supporters to move towards military installations. He regretted that Imran remembered Shireen Mazari, Senator Falak Naz and others, but forgot him who had faced the toughest time in these days.

PTI’s former MPA from Punjab Jaleel Ahmed Sharaqpuri also decided to leave the party following the May 9 mayhem. Addressing a press conference, Sharaqpuri said: “I cannot work with Imran Khan or PTI at all.” He also suggested to his friends to refrain from extending support to Imran, his ideology, and his narrative.

Separately, former MPA Makhdoom Iftikharul Hassan Gillani also announced his formal departure from the PTI.

Similarly, Makhdoom Iftikharul Hassan Gillani, a former member of the provincial assembly from Uch Sharif in Punjab, officially parted ways with the party. PTI Uch Sharif’s senior vice president Malik Ahsan Awan also left the party.

Gillani was a consistent five-time member of the provincial assembly. “In the light of May 9 events, I can no longer stay with the PTI,” Gillani stated. “The Pakistan Army is our protector and what happened with the statues of martyrs and military installations is also unacceptable.” Former Punjab Assembly member and PTI current ticketholder, Abdul Razaq Khan Niazi also announced to quit the party in protest over the May 9 violence.

In a press conference, Abdul Razaq condemned the attacks on military installations and went on to say that such activities cannot be held without the support of the party leadership.

Lauding the sacrifices of the Pakistan Armed Forces, the PTI ticket holder said terrorism was eliminated from the region due to our forces. Whatever happened on May 9 following Imran Khan’s arrest made India happy and sweets were distributed to express their joy.

PTI MPA from Karachi Bilal Ahmed Ghaffar also announced to quit the party and politics following the May 9 violence. In a video message, Bilal Ghaffar said that he was quitting the PTI and politics as he strongly condemned the May 9 riots. “As a Pakistani, I cannot even think of harming state institutions,” he said, adding that the Pakistan Army has made sacrifices for this country. “Such incidents should not happen in politics,” he added.

Ghaffar also demanded an independent probe into the May 9 incidents, calling for stern action against those responsible. However, Ghaffar said, he would continue to play his positive role for the betterment of Pakistan.

Another PTI MPA from Sindh, Omar Omari also partied ways with his party saying that he considers himself a patriot and joined politics to build a better Pakistan with the vision to bring a change. He made the announcement on his social media account and wrote: “Today as I look back on my tenure as an MPA, I fail to see how my political journey was any different.”

Omari further wrote: “The Pakistan that I believe in cannot be built on the ashes of an institution which has sacrificed so many lives in the journey to build Pakistan. Creating a divide between the Pakistani people and the army serves no purpose for the nation. It only damages it further”.

He said that the incidents of May 9 and the desecration of monuments and buildings that stand as a testament to the institution that has suffered the greatest losses and sacrificed countless lives in the struggle to build Pakistan, cannot be right in principle and in spirit. “It was wrong and must be called out as such. Unfortunately, I never learned the art of diplomacy and perhaps that is why I did not climb the steps of the slippery political ladder to get to the top.”

He added: “I cannot compromise on my beliefs or my ideals and my country. Therefore for now I bid farewell to this kind of politics and resign from PTI with a promise to return if and when my country needs me. Pakistan Zindabad.” It is pertinent to mention here that several PTI lawmakers and members have parted ways with the party following the May 9 violence, wherein military installations, including General Headquarters in Rawalpindi and Corps Commander House, Lahore, were attacked after the arrest of party chairman Imran Khan.