Wednesday, May 24, 2023
In the latest blow to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), its Senior Vice-President Fawad Chaudhry has announced “taking a break from politics” and parting ways with PTI Chairman Imran Khan over May 9 mayhem when party workers and supporters attacked public and military installations almost across the country.
“I am parting ways with (sic) Imran Khan and stepping down from party position,” he said in a tweet Wednesday following the mass departure of leaders from the party over the May 9 vandalism.
Fawad — a politician hailing from Jhelum — is a vocal critic of the incumbent rulers and a close aide of the PTI chief. He had also served as the information and law minister during his party's government.
The PTI's chief spokesperson referred to his earlier statement wherein he “unequivocally condemned” the May 9 violent protests triggered by the arrest of party chief Khan in the Al-Qadir Trust case.
The PTI stalwart's decision came a week after he was released from police custody on the Islamabad High Court (IHC) order and termed the May 9 events “extremely shameful”.
“Pakistan exists because the Pakistan Army exists and we must devise our policies keeping this point of view at the front,” the seasoned politician said while speaking with journalists outside the IHC post-midnight on May 17.
He was among the thousands of party workers and leaders who were arrested during the crackdown on the PTI since May 9 for the party’s alleged involvement in the riots that claimed at least 8 lives and injured dozens of others.
Since being released from prison, the outspoken leader of the former ruling party kept a low profile and did not make any political statements.
Several party leaders and lawmakers — including Shireen Mazari, Aamir Mehmood Kiani, Malik Amin Aslam, Mahmood Moulvi, Aftab Siddiqui, Fayyazul Hassan Chohan among others — have publicly denounced the attacks on the state installations and announced leaving the former ruling party since the May 9 vandalism.
Mazari, a close aide of Imran Khan, announced a day earlier that she had decided to quit the party for her family's sake.
Addressing a press conference in the federal capital, Mazari — the former federal minister like other outgoing leaders condemned the May 9 riots and added that she was the only parent of her children following the death of her husband. “My children and parents are [now] my priority,” she remarked.
Tensions between Khan and the government escalated following the attacks on military installations, with the army and incumbent rulers vowing to try violent protesters in military courts — a move that has drawn criticism from rights organisations.
Earlier today, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif 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.
Political analysts and journalists termed the development a "big blow" for the PTI as the firebrand leader was among the core members of Khan's party.
Journalist Mazhar Abbas wondered whether this was a time to "celebrate" or "mourn" politics.
Senior anchorperson and analyst Hamid Mir asked if Fawad's meant that the PTI might be banned.
"Gotta wonder why condemning the violence of May 9 must compel someone to part ways with Imran Khan," journalist Khurram Hussain said.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Tallal Chaudhry took a jibe at Fawad.