PTI leaders Asad Umar and Asad Qaiser on Monday denied having any contact with Jahangir Khan Tareen, who used to be a close aide of PTI chief Imran Khan before heading a group of dissidents in the party.
Umar, who had quit his party positions on May 24 but had not resigned from the party altogether, made the remarks outside an Islamabad court where he appeared in a case pertaining to violent protests in the country on May 9.
Similarly, Qaiser also made the comments as he made his way to a court in Islamabad in connection with a case concerning violence at the Federal Judicial Complex.
The remarks come amid reports of the Tareen group — which had emerged as a faction in the PTI comprising the party’s dissident parliamentarians — stepping up efforts to poach as many PTI defectors as it can to swell its ranks ahead of general elections.
In recent days, several PTI members, including prominent leaders, have parted ways with the party following a state crackdown on it over allegations of their involvement in vandalism during May 9 protests following the arrest of the PTI chief.
On May 29, Tareen held a meeting with former PTI leader Aleem Khan at his residence in the provincial capital, according to a Dawn report. The meeting was also attended by former minister Ishaq Khakwani, PM’s aide Aown Chaudhry, Saeed Akbar Niwani, and Shoaib Siddiqui, the report said.
Though there has been no word from the Tareen group regarding their re-entry to the political arena, reports suggest that the former PTI leader and financier would re-launch his political career with a new political party.
On Saturday, the Tareen-led group held a meeting in Lahore in which PTI defector Sardar Tanveer Ilyas, the former prime minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, participated and announced that he would be moving forward with the group.
“Our understanding with Jahangir Tareen is that we will move forward together. The work regarding forming a new party is also underway,” Ilyas said.
Nauman Langrial, another member of the Tareen group, said the association was seriously considering forming a new party. “Although no final decision has yet been made, we will likely form a new party. We are in contact with the former PTI leaders. Big names will join us soon,” he said.
He said that after the May 9 riots, things had changed and the people were not with “Imran Khan’s PTI”, adding that “we will welcome anyone who is ready to leave the PTI and its narrative”.
During today’s court appearance, Umar was hounded by reporters who asked him about joining Tareen.
“What connection do I have with Jahangir Tareen?” Umar responded to the queries.
Another reporter then asked the PTI leader whether Tareen had been in contact with him, to which Umar shook his head in denial.
However, he did state that Fawad Chaudhry — who had resigned from the party last month — remained in touch from “time to time”.
Umar was also asked whether he was facing any “pressure”. He promptly replied that the only “pressure” he was facing was appearing before different courts every day.
“Since my release from Adiala Jail, I have attended more than eight court hearings,” he said.
Later in the day, Qaiser — who pledged last week that he won’t let down the PTI leadership and workers — also told reporters that he was not in contact with Tareen.
“Do you have any contact with Fawad?” a reporter asked, to which Qaiser replied, “No.”
Qasier said that he was in touch with the PTI chairman and was standing with the party.
PTI leaders’ bail extended till June 10
Meanwhile, a district and sessions court in Islamabad extended Umar’s bail in a case registered at the Tarnol police station in connection with May 9 riots till June 10.
Additional sessions judge Tahir Abbas Supra presided over the hearing during which the associate prosecutor said that the prosecutor’s father had passed away. He requested the court to adjourn the hearing.
The court extended the PTI leader’s bail for five more days without conducting any proceedings.
Separately, Qaiser’s bail in a case pertaining to vandalism at the Federal Judicial Complex was also extended till June 10. The same judge heard the case.