Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Thursday requested all his party workers to "refrain from targeting" the sister of MNA Ayesha Gulalai, whose allegations of harassment against Khan have caused a furore among party members and deepened a rift with the ruling PML-N.
Ayesha Gulalai is the sister of Pakistani squash star Maria Toorpakai. Earlier, PTI supporters on social media had "objected" to the clothing of the sportswoman, while party member Alia Hamza, during the press conference on Wednesday had also brought up Toorpakai in her counter allegations against Gulalai.
"Gulalai claims that Imran Khan wants to bring western culture; she should first look at her own home," Alia Hamza had said.
As she announced her decision to part ways with the PTI earlier this week, Gulalai accused Khan and his “gang” of having an “immoral character”.
She had alleged that Khan "would forward inappropriate and explicit text messages to party women", claiming that she received the first such message in 2013.
Commenting directly on the matter for the first time since the allegations were made, Khan made his request to his party workers in the first of a series of tweets on Thursday.
Khan also insinuated that the allegations levelled against him were part of the ruling PML-N's efforts to "try and purchase its way into toppling the legitimate Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government".
He said that the PML-N was "moving to do what it does best" after their "smear campaign" and efforts to have him disqualified "failed".
"Let those who sell their souls expose themselves," Khan wrote in the last of four tweets.
Other than his remarks on Twitter, there has been no official response from the PTI chairman on the allegations that have been stirring up a storm among the political parties.
Amir Muqam refutes PTI’s allegations
PML-N leader Amir Muqam, while addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Thursday, refuted the allegations levelled against him by PTI leaders during a media talk on Wednesday.
PTI spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry had claimed that Muqam had given Rs50 million to Gulalai’s father, asking him to make his daughter hurl allegations at Imran Khan.
The PML-N leader said he will file a slander notice worth Rs500 million against PTI following the "baseless allegations", adding that he had never spoken to or met Gulalai up until her press conference on Tuesday.
He praised the lawmaker for exhibiting strength and speaking the truth.
The ruling PML-N as well as PPP are backing Gulalai’s allegations against Khan, and have called for an investigation.
On Wednesday, a petition and a reference seeking the disqualification of Khan in light of the allegations, were filed in the Election Commission of Pakistan and the Punjab Assembly by lawyer Raja Basharat and PML-N's Hina Pervaiz Butt, respectively.
In her resolution, 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”, adding that the Supreme Court of Pakistan should order an investigation into the allegations levelled by Gulalai and disqualify Imran Khan while invoking Article 62 and 63.
PML-N's Hanif Abbasi, the petitioner in a Supreme Court case that calls for Khan's disqualification, called on the PTI chief to hold a press conference to apologise to the nation and present himself for accountability.
While no such press conference was held by Khan, PTI spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry told the media that a legal notice had been sent to Gulalai for hurling moral turpitude allegations against Khan.
"The party demands an unconditional apology and resignation from her National Assembly seat for violating Article 63-A," the spokesperson said.
The PTI has maintained that Gulalai's accusations are an effort to malign the PTI.
"The ruling party has started doling out money to launch characters to malign PTI’s leadership,” the PTI spokesperson had claimed during his press conference.