Wickets tumbling: PTI leaders' mass exodus
- If it was not already, party's future is now even more uncertain
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.
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.
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