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Wickets tumbling: PTI leaders' mass exodus

  • If it was not already, party's future is now even more uncertain
Published May 25, 2023
Design: Hussain Afzal
Design: Hussain Afzal

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan’s arrest and the subsequent May 9 attacks on military installations have shocked the country, shaken its politics, and left marks that will be felt in the coming months.

In the span of just a few days, PTI’s political significance has been jolted, as dozens of lawmakers and senior politicians have left the party. The resignations include founding members, core committee leads, media strategists, and members of social media teams, all of whom have been essential to the party’s success.

The departure of these leaders has ignited severe speculation about the future of PTI, and some are wondering if this is the end of the road for the party.

 Infographic: Hussain Afzal
Infographic: Hussain Afzal

Considering the closeness of Fawad Chaudhry and Shireen Mazari to Imran Khan, their departures from the PTI and Asad Umar’s resignation have come as a shock.

The three leaders have openly expressed their disagreement with the events that took place on May 9 and stated that they believe it was a mistake to allow such an incident to happen.

“I have decided to take a break from politics, therefore, I have resigned from my party position and parted ways with Imran Khan,” Fawad said in a Twitter post.

“Pakistan exists because Pakistan Army exists, and we must devise our policies keeping this point of view at the front,” Fawad told journalists before announcing his decision to leave PTI.

In the wake of several high-profile resignations, it is becoming increasingly clear that the party is facing a leadership crisis. This mass exodus will certainly cripple Imran Khan’s ability to maneuver and left him without a strong team to back him up.

This lack of support could lead to further resignations in the future and also prevent new people from joining PTI out of fear of backlash from the law enforcement agencies that blame the party for the attacks on military installations. Ultimately, this could have serious implications.

Until a few weeks ago, it seemed that PTI had the upper hand in this current political crisis. Now, however, it seems that they are unable to sustain the pressure from their opponents. This sudden shift in the country’s political landscape was completely unexpected and has left many people wondering what happened.

As PTI’s popularity peaked, it is imploding from within for three main reasons.

First, a large part of the PTI leadership is not ideological and was brought to the party core before the 2018 general elections. Now, they are leaving, likely aware of the severity of the situation and wanting to distance themselves from it.

Second, PTI-linked electables are aware that the party may not have a bright future in the next general election after the May 9 attacks, and so they are considering jumping ship. Perhaps, they view leaving Imran Khan’s party as an opportunity to join a new party and potentially reconcile with the institutions that matter in the country.

Third, there is now a growing sense of disbelief among the PTI’s second-tier leadership about Imran’s decision to take on the army chief.

In this regard, the ongoing massive crackdown has alarmed the party’s rank and file. The recent events have also caused their support base in decision-making circles to gradually shrink and their leaders are beginning to see the writing on the wall and want to leave.

According to Imran Khan, his party leaders’ exodus is a “forced divorce” at gunpoint. “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,” the former prime minister said in a tweet.

Amidst mounting pressure, Imran has expressed sadness over this party’s crackdown and has offered to talk with those in power, but no one has taken him up on the offer. It remains to be seen how this situation will develop in the coming days and weeks, but it is clear that PTI’s future is uncertain.

The article does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Business Recorder or its owners

Umair Jamal

The writer is Head of the Political Desk at Business Recorder (Digital)


Comments are closed.

KU May 25, 2023 08:47pm
Political differences exist and criminals need to be punished for their crimes, but news of vendetta with full human rights abuse is doing the rounds, and it's of shameful nature.
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BK May 25, 2023 09:43pm
I thank IK for his service to the nation & request him to leave the dirty politics of Pakistan, he is too honest for these dirty games. IK deserves to live a life of integrity. He is our national hero and always will be. Unfortunately he was born in a nation of heedless people.
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BK May 25, 2023 10:34pm
Business Recorder, you need to post all my comments, including the ones on Munir. Lately I am seeing that any comment that I write against the Army or Munir is not posted. Keep a balanced approach and play your part in promoting freedom of speech!
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Az_Iz May 25, 2023 11:02pm
IK got his chance. Didn’t accomplish much. Now he is more of a problem than a solution. It is time for him to move on. The others can come together and start another party.
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Robin Mitha May 26, 2023 03:48am
The PTI stands at a crossroads, it can learn from this and reinvent itself or continue to self destruct. The opportunist party cadre will leave, can the ideological suporters take up the challenge to lead the party in a new direction ? The main question is IK, can he give up his combative style an be more democratic. The first thing is to admit the mistake. The May 9th episode is one of National shame. Will IK apologise for his party's part in it ? Chances appear slim, but we can always hope for a better tomorrow.
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Abdul sheikh May 26, 2023 06:46am
IK tried to bite the hand who feed him.
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Abdul sheikh May 26, 2023 06:48am
@BK, BR don’t need to publish stupid comments from stupid.
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Truthisbitter813 May 26, 2023 11:50am
@BK, Yes, a life of integrity in a joyful hug with Arif Naqvi.
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S. May 26, 2023 11:59am
Well , the truth is you can't defeat Khan unless you use tactic ike these. Yes Army is important but where has the Army brought PK in the last 75 Years?? Only anwser would be darkness!! Pakistan and India both got their "Azadi" in 1947 and look where India stands today and where Pakistan does , the reasons are well known .
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Shahbaz Ali May 26, 2023 12:49pm
Imran Khan has always been a prince, willing to destroy anyone coming in his way and thus crippling country along the way. Now prince wants to destroy Army and he will meet same fate as Saddam met against USA. Realising this wise people are jumping ship. Time for him to flee abroad is also up. He is now in ECL. IK totally forgot what happened to Zulfiqar Bhutto. I think he was too busy with his night life at that time.
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Abdullah May 26, 2023 01:34pm
Pti was built in lotas and the lotas are leaving them they way they came.
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Abdullah May 26, 2023 01:36pm
@BK, yes he can leave now.he got 190 million pounds.He can have fun in UK for the rest of his remaining life .
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Muhammad Saleh May 26, 2023 02:51pm
I wish the writer had targeted Human Rights violation. How is everyone leaving have same script?
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BK May 27, 2023 07:34am
@Abdullah, he is not from shareef family!
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Shariq May 30, 2023 07:52am
Can a country be run by human rights abuses, putting people behind bars, curbing freedom of speech, videos & audios, plots and hits! Whole world is watching this sorry sate of affairs! No rule of law! Judges are taking a nap under the supervision of generals!
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MaiKolachi May 31, 2023 03:33pm
@Shariq, Right on the money...nothing has changed from Yahya to Musharraf and to Haji/Hafiz...from Dr. Shazia to Ms. Shah! Same mindset and abuse persists!
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