• Former federal ministers Ali Zaidi, Khusro Bakhtiar and ex-Punjab minister also quit
• Senate opposition leader says he stands with Imran Khan
KARACHI: Embattled PTI leaders continued to leave the party in droves, with some even quitting politics, as the noose around those involved in the violent protests of May 9 tightened.
Some of the big names who parted ways with the PTI on Saturday included former Sindh governor Imran Ismail, its Sindh’s president Ali Zaidi, MNA Shaukat Ali, and former federal minister Khusro Bakhtiar.
In their press conferences after being freed, party leaders have followed a similar line: condemn the violence and, as Mr Khan has complained, say the magic words, “We are no longer in PTI”.
However, one prominent member of the party, Senate Opposition leader Dr Shahzad Waseem, bucked the trend by announcing he was still very much a part of PTI. Although he criticised the incidents of May 9 and 10, terming them unacceptable, he dispelled rumours that he quit the party.
In Karachi, the party suffered a major blow when Mr Ismail, one of its founding members and a close aide of the PTI chief, Mr Zaidi announced quitting the party over a “difference of opinion”.
Shortly after being released from jail on an anti-terrorism court order, Mr Ismail drove to the Karachi Press Club, where he held his “last political press conference” and announced parting ways with PTI and its founder.
In his presser, Mr Ismail even criticised Mr Khan for building an anti-establishment narrative right after his ouster from power which led the party and the country to a crisis.
Mr Ismail claimed to have become inactive weeks before the May 9 violence because of strong anti-army opinion building within the party.
“And then finally this May 9 happened which was one of the worst days in our history,” he said. “I spent more than 27 years with this party and seen many ups and downs, but this [May 9] isn’t a thing which I can ignore and move forward. I say goodbye to PTI and Imran Khan.”
Earlier, almost the same line was adopted by Mr Zaidi, who in a video message announced quitting the party and politics. He said he had joined the politics for reforms, development and progressive Pakistan, but the May 9 incident had dented these prospects badly.
“Pakistan’s armed forces are our pride,” he said. “Whatever happened was absolutely condemnable and I have condemned it in the past and I condemn it again.”
He added, “From today, I am quitting politics and resigning from my positions in the PTI. I also resign as its Sindh president and member of its core committee member. I say goodbye to politics.”
Also, ex-minister Khusro Bakhtiar decided to leave party position, saying the “May 9 incidents” led him to re-evaluate his alignment with PTI’s ideology.
In a video message, he revealed his plan to resign from key positions, including his membership in the core committee and presidency of the south Punjab chapter.
In Peshawar, former MNA Shaukat Ali told a presser that he had resigned from the party. He said remained loyal to the party in every situation but was hurt to see the incidents on May 9.
The ex-lawmaker said he would decide his future after consultation with family members, friends and voters. “For the time being, I want to pay heed towards my family business,” he said.
Dogar bids adieu
Also, former home minister Hashim Dogar announced leaving the PTI, Dawn.com reported.
“After May 9 events, it has become difficult for us friends to go along with [PTI] narrative. We are parting our ways,” said Mr Dogar, a retired army colonel and a former Punjab home minister.
PP-124’s Rai Taimoor Bhatti from Jhang, PP-36’s Chaudhry Muhammad Akhlaq from Sialkot, PP-69’s Mamoon Jaffar Tarar from Hafizabad and Sardar Mansab Ali Dogar from Pakpattan also left the PTI.
Separately, former MPA from Jhang Sheikh Muhammad Yaqub also parted ways with the PTI.
Mr Yaqub, a PTI ticket holder for the PP-125 constituency, said in a video statement that he was a patriot and could never think to support a party whose activists were involved in attacking military installations and insulting the images of martyrs.
In Islamabad, PP-219’s Dr Muhammad Akhtar Malik and PP-220’s Mian Tariq Abdullah — both from Multan — also announced their decision to leave the party along with other leaders.
Former MNA Khurram Nawaz and other leaders from the Rawalpindi district, also left the party.
Two PTI ticket holders from Lodhran — Malik Asif Awan and Tahir Amir Ghauri — decided to quit the party. Sahibzada Gazin Abbas, from Ahmedpur East said he would remain with the PTI, but his brother refused to contest on a PTI ticket after the May 9 riots.
Ikram Junaidi in Islamabad, Imran Ayub and Ishaq Tanoli in Karachi, Umar Bacha in Peshawar, Majeed Gill in Bahawalpur, and Tariq Saeed in Toba Tek Singh also contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2023