PTI rift: Imran Khan admits there are groups in party, set to meet ‘both factions’

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DNA

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) incarcerated founder Imran Khan has admitted to rifts, grouping within the party and will be meeting both factions tomorrow in Adiala jail.

Refuting reports of any forward bloc within the PTI, Khan, while speaking to reporters in a courtroom at the Adiala facility, stressed that there were no major differences within the party.

The PTI founder’s remarks came as the former ruling party has been hit with internal turmoil as leaders are speaking against each other with the PTI’s core committee also rejecting the existence of any division earlier this week.

Last month, the party’s Secretary-General Omar Ayub stepped down as secretary-general of the party to focus on his role as National Assembly Opposition Leader instead.

Ayub’s resignation came amid reports of rifts in the ranks of the PTI with 27 PTI-backed Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) lawmakers deliberated on the option of resignation from the National Assembly in protest against the party’s top leadership.

Of the 27, the insiders had said 21 of its lawmakers hinted at forming a forward bloc over top leadership’s inability to secure the release of party founder from jail, the sources added.

However, Ayub’s resignation has since been rejected by the PTI’s parliamentary party which was further followed by the party’s core committee asking him to withdraw his decision to step down from the party’s coveted post.

It is to be noted that PTI’s prominent leader Sher Afzal Marwatin May, was issued a show-cause notice after he had refused to work with Ayub and others.

Furthermore, a PTI report has held the firebrand leader responsible for a scuffle between the leader of the opposition and workers which took place outside the judicial complex in Islamabad when a district and sessions court turned down Khan and his spouse’s pleas seeking suspension in their sentences in iddat case. 

Last week, Marwat also demanded the resignation from Shibli Faraz, saying that the party would only then be freed from the “qabza mafia”. 

Founder backs Ayub, remains silent on Fawad

Putting his weight behind Ayub, the former premier said: “[Omar] Ayub has sacrificed immensely for the party and has seen a lot of hard times. His services to the party are unforgettable.”

However, when asked about whether former federal minister and ex-party member Fawad Chaudhry had sent him a meeting message and his continuous criticism of the PTI’s current leadership, Khan chose not to respond.

Fawad had recently blamed the PTI’s current leadership for being a hurdle in the jailed PTI founder and other leaders’ release from jail due to a lack of political strategy.

The ex-federal minister 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.

Furthermore, “Naya Pakistan”, the former minister admitted that he was “desperate” to rejoin the PTI. He went on to say that he was standing with Khan regardless of whether he was a part of the PTI or not.

Reiterating his affiliation with the PTI, Fawad said that he would have been a “Form 47 lawmaker” if he left the Imran-founded party.

Meanwhile, party’s Information Secretary Raoof Hasan Capital Talk” said that  Fawad had been expelled from PTI after he joined another party, so he had no right to comment on the party.

Hasan also said that some “touts” were running a narrative against the top PTI leadership on social media, adding there is no impression in the PTI that those who left the party should be brought back

The majority opinion within the party was that those who left the party should not be brought back, he claimed.

Highlighting the efforts to break the party, the spokesperson said: “Just because some people express their opinion on a public forum does not mean that the party is falling apart.”

He also ruled out the possibility of Khan seeking to secure any deal for his release as well as hiring of any lobbying firm by the party.

Imran addresses return of deserters

Another pressing issue faced by the PTI is the return of those leaders who parted ways with the party post May 9 riots.

“There will be separate judgements for party leaders who faced torture and those who left after seeing their files (of cases against them),” said Khan.

His comments came after PTI’s core committee “unanimously” approved three resolutions regarding Ayub’s resignation, PTI deserters and disciplinary actions against those who violated party policies.

The committee also condemned those politicians who parted ways during the difficult time, the third resolution read, adding that such politicians have no moral rights or powers to comment on the party affairs.

The move followed Fawad’s severe criticism of the PTI leadership.

‘I still stand by Donald Lu’s intervention’                   

Speaking on the recent resolution passed by the United States House of Representatives seeking a probe into claims of irregularities during the February 8 general elections, the ex-PM said: “The Israeli lobby is the strongest in the US, but it could never bring such a resolution (in Israel’s favour) in country’s history.”.

“The resolution is related to the elections, while the cipher was related to the end of my government. I still stand by Donald Lu’s intervention,” he added while responding to a question whether the move was an interference in Islamabad’s internal affairs in comparison with the cipher controversy.

Last week, at least 368 members of the US House voted in favour of the resolution and called for a “full and independent investigation of claims of interference or irregularities in Pakistan’s February 2024 election”. Around seven members have voted against it.

According to the House Resolution 901, representatives have voted to “express support for democracy and human rights in Pakistan”.

In response, the National Assembly condemned the US resolution terming it “contrary to facts” and “foreign intervention”.

The US resolution was completely against fact, it stated, adding that Pakistan would not tolerate any kind of interference in its internal affairs as an independent and sovereign state.

The lower house of parliament also demanded the US to maintain bilateral ties with Pakistan on mutual respect.