In another major blow to the PTI, the party’s senior vice president and spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry on Wednesday announced that he was “parting ways” with former prime minister Imran Khan.

Taking to Twitter, he said he had resigned from his party position and had “decided to take a break from politics”.

Fawad’s resignation comes a day after former human rights minister Shireen Mazari also quit the party and announced her retirement from “active politics” citing personal reasons.

She was followed by Fayyazul Hassan Chohan, a former provincial minister and PTI spokesperson, who also left the party, saying he “could not imagine speaking against the army”.

Since May 9, several other members of the PTI, including former cabinet ministers Aamir Kiani and Malik Amin Aslam, have parted ways with Imran over violence which also engulfed military installations. In an informal talk with court reporters at the Islamabad Judicial Complex, Imran had said the decisions by several PTI leaders to quit the party were coerced.

Following Fawad’s announcement, his wife Hiba Chaudhry said: “Finally, the journey has come to an end.”

PML-N leader Tallal Chaudhry, on a rare conciliatory note, said he was saddened by Fawad’s tweet.

Meanwhile, journalist Khurram Husain wondered “why condemning the violence of May 9 must compel someone to part ways with Imran Khan”.

Pakistan Initiative at Atlantic Council’s South Asia Centre Director Uzair Younus termed Chaudhry’s departure a “big blow” to Imran.

“These departures will not only weaken the PTI, but Pakistan’s flawed and floundering democracy,” he tweeted.

Senior journalist Raza Ahmad Rumi likewise agreed.

Journalist Hamid Mir wondered if the departure meant a ban was imminent on the PTI.

“Should we celebrate or mourn democracy and politics,” rued veteran journalist Mazhar Abbas.

Meanwhile, former Dawn editor Abbas Nasir opined that only the top leader mattered in Pakistan’s major political parties and “everybody else can come and go”.

“These forced desertions won’t amount to much. However, if this bleed were to include ‘electable’ candidates in big numbers, it’ll be problematic,” he tweeted.

Timeline of arrest

Chaudhry was arrested late on May 10. The Islamabad Police had subsequently said that several PTI leaders were arrested for “inciting violent protests” following Imran’s arrest in the Al-Qadir Trust case.

The Islamabad High Court had later issued a production order for the PTI leader, following which he was presented in the high court on May 16 and granted relief.

However, an attempt was made to detain him again but the PTI leader dashed back to the courtroom and sought blanket relief from the single-member bench regarding cases registered against him.

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