LAHORE: The furore over Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) MNA Ayesha Gulalai’s allegations against Imran Khan escalated on Wednesday with both sides engaging in a bitter war of words.

Ms Gulalai took her case to the media, appearing on several TV talk shows, while PTI’s women’s wing came out in support of their chairman and the party served her a legal notice for her allegations against Mr Khan.

PTI women also expressed outrage over Ms Gulalai’s action and held demonstrations against her.

“We have sent a legal notice to Ayesha Gulalai for hurling moral turpitude allegations against Imran Khan. The party demands an unconditional apology and resignation from her National Assembly seat for violating Article 63-A,” PTI spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry told a press conference at the Chairman’s Secretariat on Wednesday, flanked by women from the party.

PTI issues show-cause, legal notices to defiant MNA

Mr Chaudhry said Ms Gulalai could no longer retain her NA seat on a PTI ticket, as she had levelled allegations of moral and financial corruption against the party.

He said the party could ask the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to de-notify her if she did not resign from her seat, adding that the secretary general of the party had also issued her a four-point show-cause notice.

Accusing the PML-N of making a habit of indulging in false character assassination, Mr Chaudhry said it should come as no surprise that the ruling party would launch characters such as Ms Gulalai to malign the PTI.

“This is a script written by the PML-N, the owner of a media house and three other people whose names will be disclosed after consulting with the party leadership. The ruling party has started doling out money to launch characters to malign PTI’s leadership,” he claimed.

Mr Chaudhry said Ms Gulalai had met with Iqbal Zafar Jhagra and Amir Muqam from the PML-N prior to holding her press conference. He said the party had stooped to launching smear campaigns after realising it was losing ground politically.

While discussing Naz Baloch and Malaika Raza’s exit from the PTI, he said both women had quit the party due to organisational issues, but stated that they were always honoured by the party’s leadership.

PTI’s candidate for the NA-120 by-election, Dr Yasmin Rashid, said she had served the party’s Punjab chapter as the general secretary and secured 52,000 votes in an election against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

“Party chairman Imran Khan gave me the challenge to contest the top PML-N leader in the 2013 elections and again for the upcoming by-election after the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif despite many heavyweights in the party,” she said. She added that it was “painful to listen to the moral allegations levelled by Gulalai”.

Dr Rashid later said that Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif was afraid of her, and had launched work on development project as well as announcing more development projects in NA-120. She said she never left her constituency unattended, even after losing the election, but Mr Sharif, who won, never returned to his voters.

In Lahore, party workers in Mughalpura protested against Ms Gulalai and expressed solidarity with Mr Khan. They carried photos of Mr Khan and placards condemning Ms Gulalai’s accusations, and demanded the MNA tender an unconditional apology to the party chairman.

PML-N reaction

The ruling PML-N, on the other hand, is backing Ms Gulalai’s allegations against their arch-rival and has demanded his disqualification through a resolution filed in the Punjab Assembly, invoking Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution.

The resolution was submitted by PML-N MPA Hina Butt, seeking a probe into allegations leveled by Ms Gulalai against her former leader.

In the resolution, Ms Butt stated that the PTI chairman’s attitude towards women political workers was “inappropriate and beyond comprehension”.

She stated that the Punjab Assembly condemned Imran Khan’s activities that were tantamount to “moral turpitude”.

She stated that the Punjab Assembly demand that the Supreme Court of Pakistan should order investigation into allegations levelled by Ms Gulalai and disqualify Imran Khan while invoking Article 62 and 63.

Published in Dawn, August 3rd, 2017

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