• Supporters stage small demos to mark May 9; dozens held
• Spokesperson reiterates stance on talks with ruling parties
• Marwat removed from core body for ‘derailing’ Imran’s ties with Saudi ruler

ISLAMABAD: As the PTI seemingly failed to draw out large crowds across the country to mark the first anniversary of the May 9 violence, former president and party leader Arif Alvi was given an “important responsibility” by party chief Imran Khan to “resolve things” through dialogue apparently with the powers that be.

This was revealed during a press conference held by PTI leaders, including National Assembly Oppo­sition Leader Omar Ayub, Arif Alvi, and PTI spokesperson Raoof Hasan, outside Adiala jail after their meeting with the ex-PM in the jail.

The PTI did not share details of the ‘important’ task Mr Alvi was assigned, but the former president had made several attempts to bridge the chasm between Imran Khan and the military establishment during his stint as the head of the state. In his media talk, he said dialogue would have to be held. He, however, claimed that the political parties, part of the ruling coalition, had “no actual power”.

In response to a question about why the PTI wanted to talk to someone other than the ruling parties, the ex-president responded, “You people know who wields power” in Pakistan. “These political parties are involved in the Form-47 [manipulation] and have nothing to do with the government…” he said in an apparent reference to the coalition government.

The PTI spokesperson chimed in, saying that the party would not talk to PML-N, PPP, and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan because they were the alleged beneficiaries of the purported mandate theft.

According to Mr Alvi, he had tried to resolve things in the past and even now he was trying to do the same for the sake of the country.

Marwat shown the door

PTI hawk Sher Afzal Marwat was expelled from the core committee and political committee with ex-Azad Kashmir PM Abdul Qayyum Niazi replacing him in the political committee.

The decision was taken apparently to mend ties with Saudi Arabia in light of Mr Marwat’s claim that the Saudi crown prince was involved in the ouster of the PTI founder.

“Imran Khan time and again directed Sher Afzal Marwat to follow the party policies.,” Mr Ayub told media.

“Imran Khan said that Sher Afzal Marwat derailed the relations of Imran Khan with Saudi Arabia and Mohammed bin Salman through misleading statements.”

Mr Ayub said the PTI founder also gave instructions to the political committee to decide about taking disciplinary action against the Mr Marwat. He said a show-cause would be issued to him.

PTI workers detained

In different parts of the country, including Karachi, Lahore, and Peshawar, the PTI supporters took to the streets but their demonstrations were scuttled by the police without much effort. In Islamabad, four people were detained by the police whereas the Rawalpindi police rounded up over 15 supporters, including an ex-MPA.

Reports of small gatherings did trickle in from Lahore, Okara and Faisalabad, where a few dozen workers either took to the streets or gathered within private premises to protest against the crackdown on the PTI.

In Lahore, a small procession was taken out on the G.T. Road but it too fizzled out quickly.

In Sialkot, Rehana Dar, a PTI leader and mother of Usman Dar, tried to stage a rally but was briefly picked up by the police. Police, however, claimed Ms Dar volunteered herself for arrest by sitting in the police mobile.

In Peshawar, the PTI demanded the immediate release of Imran Khan, his wife Bushra Bibi and PTI workers. Apart from the provincial capital, the PTI activists also held rallies in Swabi, Shangla, Bajaur, Mohmand, and South Waziristan.

In Karachi, the PTI organised protests at as many as 18 venues which did not see much activity. However, the police detained 23 supporters, including three women, as they broke up the demonstrations across the city.

Imran Ayub in Karachi, Mohammad Asghar in Rawalpindi, Munawer Azeem in Islamabad, Umer Farooq in Peshawar, and Ahmad Fraz Khan in Lahore also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, May 10th, 2024

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