PTI leader Hammad Azhar reappears on public scene after almost a year in hiding

Published May 22, 2024
PTI leader Hammad Azhar pictured at the party’s central secretariat in Islamabad. — DawnNews
PTI leader Hammad Azhar pictured at the party’s central secretariat in Islamabad. — DawnNews

PTI leader Hammad Azhar reappeared on Wednesday after almost a year away from the public eye.

Azhar, a former finance minister under the PTI government, went into hiding last year after the state launched a crackdown against the party leadership last year following the incidents of May 9.

“I received a message from Imran Khan last night after the attack on Rauf Hassan. He directed that it is now time for me to join the party leadership,” he said in a brief interaction with media personnel after showing up at the party central secretariat in Islamabad today.

“I have come to meet Raoof Hasan today. I will then go to Peshawar and seek interim bails and request more time. I will also appear in Punjab courts and will then leave the matter to the Almighty.

“After the kind of attack on Raoof Hasan, I don’t think it’s right to stay hidden anymore.”

He said that he would fight “all the 51 or 52 fake cases” against him in Punjab courts, adding: “I’m not guilty in any of them.”

When asked if he would be accompanied by security guards or a protocol, Azhar replied in the negative.

Soon after Azhar’s reemergence was reported by the media, the PTI tweeted that police had arrived at the party’s secretariat in order to arrest him.

Party leader Omar Ayub said he condemned the attempt in the “strongest words” and criticised the police for attempting to arrest Azhar while there was no update on catching Raoof Hasan’s attackers.

PTI leader Taimur Jhagra said no one was allowed to enter the secretariat as the police surrounded it.

“A UN election team was there when they entered looking for Hammad Azhar. Pretty much, the Islamabad police gave the UN the presentation they needed to see while embarrassing Pakistan.”

PTI lawyer Salman Niazi said the UN team had come for a meeting on the issues of election transparency and rigging and got to see “living evidence of police interference in electoral and political process of the country”.

He alleged that the UN team was also “made hostages” by the police and initially not allowed to leave.

The PTI shared footage of the police entering its secretariat.

One video showed Hasan shouting at the police for not catching his assailants.

In a video message, he alleged the police arrived without a search warrant and were trying to inspect rooms on every floor for Azhar.

“This unwarranted attack reflects the fascism of the state and the force and violence by which they are trying to run the country.”

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