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.
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“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.
Ref. My earlier statement where I unequivocally condemned 9th May incidents, I have decided to take a break from politics, therefore, I have resigned from party position and parting ways from Imran Khan
— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) May 24, 2023
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.
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.”
We had all heard about forced marriages in Pakistan but for PTI a new phenomenon has emerged , forced divorces.
Also wondering where have all the human rights organizations in the country disappeared.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) May 23, 2023
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.”