• Says Pakistanis cannot be left at the mercy of Nawaz, Zardari and Fazl
• Qureshi’s son reaffirms loyalty to Imran; Qaiser, Habib rubbish Fawad’s claims
• PTI assails govt attempt to ‘negotiate with defectors’

RAWALPINDI / ISLAMABAD: In a move that left many scratching their heads, a group of PTI defectors led by Fawad Chaudhry met Shah Mehmood Qureshi in Adiala Jail on Wednesday, apparently to convince the party’s vice chairman to desert Imran Khan.

However, the meeting of the group also comprising former Sindh governor Imran Ismail, Aamer Kiani and Mehmoud Moulvi, which was “arranged” in a separate room of the jail, apparently failed to achieve its objective.

In a post on Twitter, the PTI leader’s son Zain Qureshi said, “Makhdoom sahib is the vice chairman of the party and is the name of an ideology. We stand with the ideology of Tehreek-i-Insaf and Imran Khan. He [Shah Mehmood] has only done politics of principles and service, not position and greed”.

“He was with Imran Khan yesterday and today,” Dawn.com reported Mr Qureshi as saying.

About a week ago, Imran Khan announced that Mr Qureshi would lead the party in case he is arrested or disqualified.

After their meeting, Fawad Chaudhry and others spoke to journalists eagerly waiting outside the prison.

The former PTI leaders criticised the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government for the prevailing political instability and financial crunch hitting the country.

Mr Chaudhry said that the 250 million people of Pakistan cannot be left at the mercy of Asif Zardari, Nawaz Sharif and Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

He said they had a detailed meeting with Mr Qureshi. “We have to move towards a stable solution,” he added, without elaborating.

When asked about thousands of detained workers of PTI, he said a majority of them did not have any direct link with the May 9 riots and it was the responsibility of the party to get them released.

He expressed the hope that law would be followed while taking any action against those involved in riots during which civilian and military installations were targeted.

His remarks come amid speculation about the launch of a new political party in the country, mostly comprising PTI defectors.

Mr Chaudhry said he had talked to the former PTI leadership. “We had a detailed meeting with Asad Umar, and also contacted Asad Qaiser, Farrukh Habib, Shahzad Wasim, Ali Zaidi, Hammad Azhar, Pervez Khattak and other leaders.”

He did not mention what objective the group wanted to achieve by these efforts. However, the grapevine is abuzz with rumours that they are working on a ‘minus Imran’ formula and their meeting with Mr Qureshi was a step in that direction.

The PDM government cannot be given an open field in the absence of an active opposition, Mr Chaudhry said.

He stressed that there was a need to address the issues facing the country but unfortunately there was no one to play the role of a saviour.

This was Mr Chaudhry’s first media talk since he quit the PTI.

However, Asad Qaiser in a post on social media denied any contact with Mr Chaudhry.

Likewise, Farrukh Habib tweeted: “No politics without Imran khan!”

Negotiation committee of PTI

In a sharp reaction to Fawad Chaudhry’s media talk, PTI’s Secretary Information Raoof Hasan said rumours of negotiations with PTI are being spread by some people who have already left the party.

He said a committee has already been constituted to negotiate, which shall do so with the permission of Imran Khan. This was done to hold talks with those people in power who have pushed the country to the brink of collapse, he added.

Apparently alluding to the PDM government, Mr Hasan said one fails to understand the need for negotiating with those who have already left PTI and are no longer part of the party.

He said such rumours would not give any credibility to those people who displayed a “humiliating paucity of character”.

Published in Dawn, June 1st, 2023

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