PTI's wickets tumble as Maleeka Bokhari, Musarrat Cheema, Jamshed Cheema quit party

“Events of May 9 are painful for every Pakistani; there’s no pressure on me to leave the party,” Bokhari says

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(Left to right) Ex-PTI leaders Maleeka Bokhari, Jamshed Cheema, and Musarrat Jamshed Cheema addressing press conferences in Islamabad, on May 25, 2023, in this still taken from a video. — YouTube/GeoNews
(Left to right) Ex-PTI leaders Maleeka Bokhari, Jamshed Cheema, and Musarrat Jamshed Cheema addressing press conferences in Islamabad, on May 25, 2023, in this still taken from a video. — YouTube/GeoNews

  • “Events of May 9 painful for every Pakistani," Maleeka Bokhari says.
  • “It was not an easy decision to leave politics,” says Jamshed Cheema.
  • Senator Abdul Qadir also announces his exit from former ruling party.

ISLAMABAD: Three Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders — Maleeka Bokhari, Jamshed Cheema, and Musarrat Jamshed Cheema — Thursday announced quitting the Imran Khan-led party, joining a long list of leaders to desert the party following the May 9 riots.

“I condemn the events that transpired on May 9. For every Pakistani, the events that took place on May 9 are very painful,” the former member of the National Assembly said in a press conference in Islamabad.

Announcing her “dissociation” from the party, Bokhari said she wasn’t under duress and “no one forced me into making this decision”.

“As a lawyer, I want to play a positive role in Pakistan. I also want to spend time with my family,” she said.

Bokhari quit the party hours after her release from Adiala Jail, where she was sent after being arrested under Section 4 of the Maintenance of Public Order.

In her presser, Bokhari backed the authorities’ decision to investigate the May 9 events and said the people behind the violent events should be punished.

“When a red line has been crossed, then action should be taken in line with the law,” she added.

In a separate press conference, Cheema said he and his wife could not continue with the Khan-led party due to the violence that ensued after the PTI chief’s arrest.

“I was there at the Corps Commander House myself. It saddened me to see what was happening there. The people who were involved in it should be punished,” he said.

He said it is a party’s failure if its workers are violent.

“This career [..] is in our blood … it was not an easy decision to leave politics. You serve the nation in politics, but not at the cost of armed forces … not at the cost of people who protect the country,” Cheema added.

Separately, PTI Senator Mohammad Abdul Qadir also announced his exit from the party as he condemned the May 9 riots and the attack on the Jinnah House. "I will sit as an independent member instead of sitting in the PTI's benches in the Senate from now on," he announced.

Meanwhile, former Punjab Assembly members from Bahawalnagar — Mumtaz Ahmad Maharvi and Asif Manzoor Mohal — also joined the list of those quitting the former ruling party. Mohal termed May 9 the "darkest day in Pakistan's history". 

The heat

Khan’s party has been feeling the heat of the state’s might after his party workers burnt and smashed military installations, including 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 among others — have publicly denounced the attacks on the state installations and announced leaving the former ruling party since the May 9 vandalism.

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.