ISLAMABAD: Senior Pak­istan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader and former federal minister Usman Dar, whose whereabouts had been unknown for three weeks, resurfaced in a pre-recorded interview, televised on Wednesday night, where he announced a parting of ways

with Imran Khan’s party, alleging that the former prime minister was the ‘mastermind of the May 9 riots’.

Thought to be a close confidant of the PTI chief, he also alleged that Mr Khan had hatched two conspiracies against Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Asim Munir; first in October last year when a long march-cum-sit-in was arranged to stall his appointment, and then on May 9 this year through pre-planned riots to get him removed.

Since the May 9 riots, which broke out soon after Imran Khan’s arrest in Islamabad, over a hundred prominent leaders were picked up and many of them later held press conferences to announce their decision to quit the PTI. While most of these leaders were grilled by journalists during such pressers, Mr Dar made the announcement in a TV interview with Dunya News.

Accuses party head of hatching two plots against incumbent army chief; Usman’s mother comes forward to fill vacuum

PTI sources said Mr Dar was taken to anchorperson Kamran Shahid’s residence in Lahore on Tuesday night for the interview, which was then televised on Wednesday night. However, these claims could not be independently verified.

During the interview, Mr Dar alleged that the narrative against the state was built on the directions of Mr Khan and workers from across the country were called to Zaman Park, where they were ‘mentally prepared’ for the agitation and riots.

He further alleged that the May 9 riots were planned in a meeting chaired by Imran Khan, who had ordered workers to attack military installations in case of his arrest.

Mr Dar alleged that the sit-in of October 2022, was an attempt to stop the appointment of Asim Munir as COAS. But after failing to get the desired results, another attempt was made on May 9 to remove him from the post.

According to the ex-minister, PTI leaders Hammad Azhar, Murad Saeed, Azam Swati and Farrukh Habib were anti-army. He also claimed that Imran Khan used his workers as ‘human shields’ to avoid his arrest and directed them to attack military installations in case of his arrest. He then announced his decision to quit the PTI and politics.

Mother’s challenge

Soon after Mr Dar’s startling disclosures hit the screens, his mother released a video statement in which she threw down the gauntlet to top PML-N gun Khawaja Asif by inviting him to face her in politics.

Her son was defeated by Khawaja Asif in the 2018 election from NA-73 Sialkot constituency after a closely-fought contest.

“Khawaja Asif, you’ve achieved what you wanted to, by holding Usman Dar at gunpoint. [He] has quit politics, not his mother,” thundered the lady, her voice full of determination. “This is my challenge, come contest against me and see what fate awaits your lion [PML-N’s election symbol].”

Mr Dar was reportedly picked up from Karachi in the second week of September and later a clip of Mr Dar’s mother had surfaced on social media in which she demanded his immediate release.

PTI leaders had also been demanding his release. Just a day ago, the Sindh High Court had directed police to register a case if a cognisable offence was made out about the alleged disappearance of the PTI leader.

Published in Dawn, October 5th, 2023

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