Islamabad: Dozens of Politicians Leave Imran Khan’s Party

The former prime minister accuses the government and the army of putting pressure on members of the Pakistan Tehreek-e Insaf. The Defense Minister has raised the possibility of banning the political grouping due to the violence of the protests that broke out on May 9. Meanwhile, nobody talks about the issues that should be central before the elections called for October.

Islamabad () – Dozens of politicians belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-e Insaf (Pakistan Justice Movement or PTI) are leaving the party as the government tries to restore order in the country after violent protests that broke out on May 9 due to the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan.

“I have decided to take a break from politics,” Vice President Fawad Chaudhry wrote on Twitter yesterday. “That is why I have resigned from the party and parted ways with Imran Khan.” A few hours later, during a press conference in the capital Islamabad, Asad Umar, general secretary of the PTI, also announced that he would leave his position although he would remain a member of the party: “In light of the events of May 9, it is impossible for me to continue in the leadership of the party, for which I am resigning from the post of general secretary and from my membership of the central committee.” He made the remarks shortly after being released after spending two weeks in jail.

The day before, the former Minister of Human Rights, Shireen Mazari, who has been detained several times since May 12, also condemned the violence of the protesters and said that she will not continue to engage in politics: “The continuous arrests and the ordeal to which she has been my daughter Imaan has also affected my health. That is why I have decided to leave active politics. And I want to add that from now on I will not be part of the PTI or any other political party.” Other local politicians also left the party and denounced the acts of violence on May 9, although they assured that they had not been pressured in their decision.

With a scathing tweet and not too veiled allusion, Imran Khan instead accused the government of being behind the defections of his party members: “We have all heard of forced marriages in Pakistan, but now there is a new phenomenon to the PTI, forced divorces”. The former cricket captain also believes that the army chief, General Asim Munir, ordered his arrest to try to eliminate him. Since Parliament withdrew its confidence vote on him in April last year, Imran Khan has repeatedly criticized the military and the current government, accusing them of trying to kill him after he was shot in the leg during a demonstration in November.

In recent weeks, PTI supporters demanding the release of the former prime minister have also attacked the army headquarters and various government offices. Islamabad is taking action: some local police departments, for example, have sent the names of hundreds of PTI affiliates to the central government to impose travel restrictions on them and prevent them from leaving the country, while in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – where elections for Provincial Assemblies are due to take place and the PTI is particularly popular – squads have been formed to arrest activists and party leaders of Imran Khan, who for his part faces dozens of charges related to the period in which he was prime minister.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court, which tries to maintain a semblance of rule of law, ordered his release a few days ago, although the political context is increasingly uncertain. Recently the Defense Minister, Khawaja Asif, raised the possibility of ban PTI, with the risk of further aggravating the conflict between Imran Khan and the military establishment.

Some commentators believe that the October elections could be a opportunity for the country to have a new beginning if the Pakistani army agrees to step aside. But at the same time the current crisis is reminiscent of times Pakistan has already lived through, when the generals ruled directly for three decades and then stepped aside, but always kept pulling the strings of politics behind the scenes.

Meanwhile, several issues that should be central to the electoral campaign have taken a backseat: the economy on the brink of collapse and the risk of default on the international debt, the rise in inflation to 35% and the devaluation of the rupee, the return of terrorism in some areas of the country and the recovery of areas affected by last summer’s floods, which almost a year later still need help.

Source link