Isolated Imran seeks to regroup party

PTI chief names Qureshi as his successor; forms seven-member committee for poll talks with govt


Imran Adnan May 27, 2023
Former prime minister Imran Khan, gestures as he speaks to the members of the media at his residence in Lahore May 18, 2023. PHOTO: REUTERS

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LAHORE:

 

An increasingly isolated Imran Khan on Saturday moved to reorganise the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in the wake of a massive exodus from the party, following violent attacks on sensitive military installations after his arrest in a graft case on May 9.

The PTI chairman – through successive actions – named Shah Mahmood Qureshi as his successor in case he might be disqualified.

He also named Omar Ayub Khan as the party’s new secretary general in place of Asad Umar, who announced his resignation from the post earlier this week.
Imran also formed a seven-member Negotiation Committee for talks with the government on “a plan of action regarding the elections”. The team comprises Vice Chairman Qureshi, former defence minister Pervez Khattak, Asad Qaiser, Hammad Azhar, Haleem Adil Sheikh, Murad Saeed and Aon Abbas Buppi.

The announcements came as three senior PTI leaders – former Sindh governor Imran Ismail, PTI Sindh chief Ali Zaidi and South Punjab President Khusro Bakhtiar – on Saturday quit the party and joined a long list of those who parted ways with Imran.

Previously, PTI stalwarts Fawad Chaudhry, Shireen Mazari, Musarrat Jamshed Cheema, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Amir Kiani, Saifullah Nyazee, Murad Raas and many others left the party after the May 9 violence.

Meanwhile, talking to journalists in Lahore, the PTI chairman said that senior party leaders like Qureshi and Khattak would look after the party matters if he was disqualified. He also said that Murad Saeed would emerge as a great leader in the future.

Imran appointed Omar as the party’s new secretary general. At the news conference, he also announced that President Arif Alvi would continue to work in accordance with the Constitution.

Imran said that time would change soon and “I will give a big surprise in the coming days”.

He stressed that he had no fight with the army, adding that he had never said anything about violence and vandalism.
About the party supporters and workers who had been arrested over the May 9 violence, the PTI chairman said that a team of lawyers had been consulted for their release.

“We will approach the courts soon,” he added.
About the exodus from the party, Imran said: “Some of the people who are leaving have been forced and some have been exposed.”
He added that the youth were the best capital for the party and they would be the PTI candidates in the coming election.
“There is no solution to the country’s problems, except the election. Only the PTI will win the election. Have a referendum today and see the result,” the PTI chairman told the reporters.
Imran said that the government had destroyed the country’s economy. He also

tweeted on the economic situation, pointing to a backbreaking inflation and unprecedented fall in value of the Pakistani rupee.
“Dollar is selling at Rs310 in the open market,” he said. “To the PDM [Pakistan Democratic Movement] leadership this historic devaluation of the rupee doesn't matter because all their ill-gotten wealth is stashed abroad in dollars,” he added.
“While the country's economy is crashing right before our eyes, all this fascist govt is thinking of are more coercive and oppressive measures to crush the PTI.

It will be the people of Pakistan who will experience inflation and poverty while the PDM leaders will be beneficiaries of this fall in the rupee.”
Meanwhile, more PTI leaders quit the party, joining a long list of those who took separate paths in the wake of the May 9 riots. They included former Sindh governor Ismail, and former federal ministers Zaidi and Bakhtiar.

Ismail, a founding member of the PTI, who was among the members, who sang the party's anthem ‘Tabdeeli Aaye Ray’ was arrested for inciting violence during the protests on May 9

“This is my final political press conference,” Ismail said at the beginning of his news conference in Karachi after getting bail from an anti-terrorism court. "I resign from all positions in the PTI and step down from the basic membership of the party,” he added.

“[Imran] Khan Sahib, I bid you and PTI farewell,” the former Sindh governor told reporters.
However, unlike many other PTI leaders, he did not say that he was quitting politics, too. “I have not made a final decision on that,” he said.

Ismail said that those who were involved in the May 9 riots should be “punished”, but stressed that “it has not yet been proven in the inquiry that who was involved”. He also criticised Imran.

“Today, those who used to advise Imran Khan should think about it. Those who used to sit around Imran Khan and give him advice should reflect on their actions,” the former governor added.

Earlier in the day, Zaidi the PTI Sindh president, released a video message, announcing that he was quitting the PTI and politics.
He said that he took the decision after much deliberation, adding that it was not an easy decision.

“I resign from the PTI Sindh chairmanship, core committee and membership of the National Assembly,” he said. “I will continue working for Pakistan, and bring foreign exchange to the country.”

Zaidi repeated his condemnation of the May 9 violence.
“Whatever happened was wrong and whoever was involved in it, should be brought to justice. Pakistan Army is our pride […] because of them we sleep peacefully as they protect our borders.”
In a separate video message, Bakhtiar announced his plan to resign from key positions, including his membership of the core committee and presidency of the South Punjab chapter.
“I have distanced myself from party's politics because of this policy.”
He said the “May 9 incidents” led him to re-evaluate his alignment with the PTI’s ideology, adding that “the heart-wrenching events of May 9 have forced me to distance myself from the political philosophy of the PTI”.

Meanwhile, more former PTI lawmakers also abandoned the party. They include Raja Khurram Nawaz, Shaukat Ali, Hashim Dogar Dr Muhammad Akhtar Malik, Mian Tariq Abdullah, Rai Taimoor Bhatti, Chaudhry Muhammad Akhlaq, Mamoon Jaffar Tarar and Sardar Mansab Ali Dogar.

(WITH INPUT FROM OUR KARACHI CORRESPONDENT)

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