On May 27, while meeting with Journalists and Lawyers at his Zaman Park residence in Lahore, PTI Chairman Imran Khan said, “Shah Mehmood will lead the party if I get disqualified.”
Imran Khan has been facing one hundred fifty cases ranging from corruption to terrorism since being ousted from power in April last year. Commenting on his essential leadership leaving his party after the attacks on government and military institutions in retaliation for his arrest, he said “The situation would change soon.”
Khan was arrested on May 9, 2023, and released on protective bail on May 12. The arrest caused a considerable uproar and riots in the country. The anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Lahore has handed over 16 alleged suspects involved in the attack to the military to try under the Army Act in line with the decision of the National Security Committee (NSC). These suspects were named in two separate cases concerning the attacks on General Head Quarters (GHQ), Corps Commander House, etc.
Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), the alliance of political parties currently running the Government of Pakistan, has said that the country’s civil and military leadership is resolute in punishing all the arsonists and attackers involved in damaging public and private property and military installations.
The Federal Government recently canceled the diplomatic passports of 9 PTI leaders and Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Shiekh Rashid. This is part of the crackdown on perpetrators, plotters, abettors, and facilitators of attacks on military and government buildings on May 9. These ten individuals were members of former prime minister Imran Khan’s government.
Khan Maintains that some party leaders left the party under compulsion while some had been exposed. Aamer Kiani, Amin Aslam, Shireen Mazari, and Asad Umar have left the core committee, while Fawad Chaudhry has been removed from the committee. The Governor of Sindh, Imran Ismail, who had been with the party since its conception, quit PTI on Saturday, May 27.
The leaders feel as though Tehreek-Insaaf has lost its primary purpose. Many of them have been arrested multiple times on charges they claim to be false. All exiting leaders denounced the riots on May 9, asserting that attacking our institutions and especially our army is out of bounds. No one has claimed the incidents nevertheless, they say if a particular type of leader or ideology promotes this kind of violence and puts the workers and general public in danger, they can’t be a party to it.
There is a lot more at play here. Imran Khan seems like a losing battle right now. Most of these politicians have had their days in the political realm or have something to hide. To get out of the game and accept defeat quietly would be the smartest move right now. Others have been arrested and maimed on many occasions, whether rightly or wrongly. They do not want to be part of the wrong narrative for the rest of their political careers.
In response, Khan tweeted, “We had all heard of forced marriages in Pakistan, but for PTI, a new phenomenon has emerged: forced divorces.” In another tweet, he gave the exiting members his well wishes and said he understood why they would give in to the pressures. He also thanked and appreciated those withstanding the pressure and fighting for freedom beside him.
Imran Khan insists that elections will reveal an outcome in his favor, which is why the government is finding different ways and reasons to delay coming up with a date. PTI chairman has put together a committee of six members to hold talks with the PDM about elections and other matters that need resolving. The Federal Government, however, has refused to hold any further negotiations with PTI. Government sources say there can be no political or legal compromise between Imran Khan and his associates by the federal government after the attacks on Pakistan’s armed forces and state institutions.
Pakistan’s Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel said in a Press Conference on Friday, May 26th, 2023, that Khan’s medical results from the May 9th arrest health check showed drug and alcohol abuse. He said that Imran Khan’s mentally unfit and unstable. According to Patel, when the full report comes, they will release it to the public and hand it over to the police.
There are many inconsistencies in that story. The test was done on May 9; usually, the results are available within days. Some medical reports have already been released and are visible to the public. Medical experts say those reports do not show drug abuse or alcohol use.
At this point, the people of Pakistan must wait and see. The loyalties of the people could be more transparent. Who is involved in what event or activity? All they can be sure of is that in the end, they will suffer, so they must react to the events as they happen, even if they pay for them ultimately. There is a cost, regardless.