ISLAMABAD: Another PTI leader, MNA Aamer Mehmood Kiani, quit the party on Wednesday as the government continues to look for suspects wanted over attacks on the army following last week’s arrest of former premier Imran Khan.

Mr Kiani, a former federal minister and PTI’s additional secretary general, told reporters in Islamabad that May 9 — when Mr Khan’s arrest triggered violent countrywide protests — was a black day in the history of Pakistan and that attacks on army installations, especially the GHQ and Jinnah House, had “hurt him”.

The riots were an attempt to trigger a sort of ‘Arab Spring’ in Pakistan, he said, referring to a wave of pro-democracy protests and uprisings that took place in the Middle East and North Africa in 2010 and 2011.

Mr Kiani, who belongs to Rawalpindi, said he had not only left the PTI but had also quit politics as “I never believed in that sort of politics”. He said he would not join any other party.

Move comes a day after a lawmaker from Karachi quit party

“Pakistan’s future is linked with the army and a deliberate effort is being made to damage the army,” he said. “In Arab Spring, armies were damaged to take control of countries. It is a dangerous move, and I cannot become part of it as I belong to a family which has given life to the army and served in it.”

Replying to a question, Mr Kiani said he had not visited Lahore for over one and a half months as he was not allowed to enter Imran Khan’s Zaman Park residence and meet him when he paid a visit the last time.

“I joined the PTI in 1996 and have given 27 years of my life to it. I am hurt because of the incident of May 9. Although several cases under the ATA [Anti-Terrorism Act] have been registered against me, I never cared about it,” he said.

When asked if he was quitting the party because of corruption allegations while he was a health minister, he said those cases had already been closed and there was nothing against him as they were political cases.

Mr Kiani’s decision to quit the party came a day after Mahmood Baqi Moulvi, a senior PTI member and a member of the National Assembly from Karachi, left the party over a “difference of opinion” and said he would also resign from the NA seat.

Speaking at a news conference at the Karachi Press Club, he expressed regret over the May 9 violent protests and said that the events changed his mind about his political future.

“I can’t run along with this party,” he said about the PTI. “I demand the law-enforcement agencies take action against all those workers involved in the violent incidents of May 9.”

He said that many people within the PTI disagreed with several strategies and policies, but they were afraid of speaking the truth. “Protest is everyone’s right, but violent protests, and that too directed at our defence line, cannot be tolerated. I have never even imagined going against the institutions,” he said.

Mr Moulvi was elected MNA in a by-election last year on a seat that fell vacant after the demise of MNA Aamir Liaquat Hussain. He worked as an adviser to the maritime affairs ministry during the PTI-led government.

Commenting on Mr Moulvi’s press conference, the general secretary of PTI’s Karachi chapter, Arsalan Taj Ghumman, tweeted: “Yes­t­erday came the news about Mahmood Moulvi’s arrest. Today came his announcement that he’s quitting the party. The simple question is: who’d arrested him and who’s released him? All other things are irrelevant.”

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2023

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