Fawad rules out jailed Imran’s release in presence of current PTI leadership

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Fawad Chaudhry

ISLAMABAD, JUN 30: Amid reports of internal rifts within the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), former federal minister Fawad Chaudhry has said there is “no chance” of the incarcerated party founder Imran Khan’s release in the presence of the current PTI leadership.

“[Due to] lack of political strategy of current PTI leadership, all of us are suffering,” said the former senior vice-president of the party, who parted with Khan following May 9 violent protests that saw attacks on public and military installations.

He also responded to the PTI leader’s criticism that those who parted ways with Khan in the aftermath of the May 9 mayhem have now started speaking in his favour as the “tough time” for the embattled party has now come to an end.

“Tough time has not ended for the jailed former premier and other PTI leaders. Yasmin Rashid, Ejaz Chaudhry and others are still behind bars and going through a difficult time,” he said.

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The former federal minister said: “Some people start their journey from Peshawar and return after staging a rally in Lahore.”

Continuing with his criticism of the PTI leadership, the former federal minister said Barrister Gohar Ali Khan-led party’s leaders only doing commentary on verdicts of different cases against jailed party leaders.

He was of the view that “eligible” politicians like Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Pervaiz Elahi, and Asad Qaiser should lead the party. Fawad, who is also a lawyer, urged the top PTI leaders to stop “foolish talks” expecting the early release of the PTI founder as a result of the court battles.

Interestingly, his statement came at a time when cracks emerged in the embattled PTI as 21 of its lawmakers, who are now part of the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC), reportedly hinted at forming a forward bloc over top leadership’s inability to secure the release of party founder Imran Khan from jail.

Earlier this week, PTI Secretary-General Omar Ayub Khan also tendered his resignation from his party position. He unveiled his plans to stay focused on his parliamentary role as the opposition leader in the National Assembly.

Fawad’s affiliation with the Imran-founded party has always been in question after several politicians quit the former ruling party after the May 9 riots.

Fawad had, on May 24, 2023, announced “taking a break from politics” and parting ways with Imran over May 9 mayhem when party workers and supporters attacked public and military installations almost across the country immediately after the arrest of the PTI founder.

“I am parting ways with (sic) Imran Khan and stepping down from party position,” the politician wrote in a tweet following the mass exit of leaders from the party over the May 9 vandalism.

A group of disgruntled PTI leaders had formed a separate political party — Istehkam-e-Pakistan Party (IPP) — led by Jahangir Tareen which was also attended by Fawad alongside several other bigwigs.

Fawad denied quitting the PTI after being released from jail in April after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) granted bail in all the cases against him.

In a veiled message, the politician said he is yet to tell his side of the story with regards to what happened in the wake of the May 9 violence.

“When our turn comes, we will tell our story,” Fawad said.

He also urged the Imran-founded party to hold dialogue with all stakeholders, including Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F).

However, Fawad’s statements were not welcomed by the PTI leadership as the party’s Information Secretary Raoof Hasan, while talking to a private TV channel, said he believed his party would not accept Fawad back into its fold again.

The party spokesperson added he did not foresee the return of any former party leader, who jumped ship in difficult times, back to the party. He said there were many of them trying to rejoin PTI after facing political demise, but the party’s founder did not approve it.

“I call them rats,” he said adding that he believed that certain powers wanted to create disloyalty through them in the party ranks after they failed in their attempts against the PTI, while the party was getting stronger every day.