Ex-PM Imran Khan’s PTI hit by more resignations in Pakistan

Chaudhry, senior vice president of the PTI, quits party, Secretary General Umar resigns from post.

In this Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018 photo, Pakistani Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry speaks to The Associated Press, in Islamabad, Pakistan. The Ahmadiyya minority fears heightened persecution after the new government bowed to demands from Islamic hard-liners to rescind the appointment of a U.S.-based Ahmadi professor to an economic advisory council. Chaudhry sought to stem the controversy by pointing out that the position had nothing to do with religion or lawmaking, and that the newly elected government wanted to be inclusive. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)
Fawad Chaudhry said he was not only leaving his post, but the party and Imran Khan, as well [BK Bangash/AP Photo]

Islamabad, Pakistan – A senior vice president of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Pakistan Movement for Justice, PTI) has quit the party while its secretary general has also stepped down from his role, marking another blow to the embattled ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Fawad Chaudhry, the senior vice president and a former federal minister, tweeted on Wednesday that he was “parting ways” with Khan and the party.

“I have decided to take a break from politics, therefore, I have resigned from party position and parting ways from Imran Khan,” Chaudhry wrote.

Hours later, during a news conference in the capital, Islamabad, Asad Umar announced he was also stepping down as secretary general but added that he would remain a PTI member.

“In view of the events of May 9, it is untenable for me to continue in party’s leadership position so I am resigning from the post of secretary general and my membership of core committee,” said Umar, who had been released from a two-week stint in jail earlier in the evening.

With their resignations, Chaudhry and Umar join more than two dozen other PTI leaders who have either left their positions or quit the party since his arrest earlier this month.

On Tuesday, former Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari quit PTI after being detained several times since May 12, when she was first arrested over the deadly protests that followed Khan’s arrest.

Chaudhry and Umar were also arrested in Islamabad on May 10 on charges related to public order. Chaudhry told reporters after he was released a week later that he condemned the violence sparked by Khan’s arrest.

“Pakistan exists because Pakistan Army exists, and we must devise our policies keeping this point of view at the front,” Chaudhry told reporters after his release.

FILE PHOTO: Pakistan's Finance Minister Asad Umar gestures during a news conference in Islamabad, Pakistan, November 30, 2018. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood/File Photo
Asad Umar is a former Pakistani finance minister [File: Faisal Mahmood/Reuters]

During his news conference on Wednesday, Umar also condemned the violence.

“Almost everyone condemned what happened on May 9, but I want to talk about why those incidents were dangerous for the country. Lives were lost, people were injured, and state and private properties were damaged,” he said.

“But the most dangerous thing was that installations associated with the army were attacked.”

As more politicians jumped ship, Khan tweeted: “We had all heard about forced marriages in Pakistan but for PTI a new phenomenon has emerged, forced divorces.”

The desertions compound the PTI chief’s problems as the 70-year-old politician battles more than 100 legal cases and is trying to avoid being rearrested.

Speaking to reporters at a court in Islamabad on Tuesday, Khan alleged his party leaders were being coerced to leave, without saying who was doing it.

“People are not quitting, they are be­ing forced to leave the party at gunpoint,” he said. “Political parties cannot be dismantled through such tactics.”

Source: Al Jazeera