Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has cancelled the basic membership of all leaders and workers who have announced that they are quitting the party over the past week, with sources within the PTI claiming former office-holders have also been removed from relevant WhatsApp groups.
There has been a mass exodus from the PTI over the past week, with senior leaders and workers alike announcing they are parting ways with Khan following the May 9 riots wherein the former prime minister’s supporters ransacked and vandalized various military and civilian properties, including the Lahore Corps Commanders’ house and several monuments dedicated to martyrs. Shortly after the rioting, the government initiated an ongoing crackdown against the party, with more than 7,000 members of the party already taken into police custody.
Among the prominent PTI leaders who have defected from the party are Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, Jamshed and Musarrat Cheema, Maleeka Bukhari, Shireen Mazari and Malik Amin Aslam. Asad Umar has also announced he is quitting all party offices, but has maintained he will continue to serve as a basic member of the PTI.
While the party has yet to formally issue any list of defectors, sources close to Khan say he has terminated the basic membership of all of them and also directed for their removal from all relevant WhatsApp groups. Lamenting the alleged harassment of PTI workers and office-bearers, Khan claimed the country’s “descent into fascism” had commenced on May 25, 2022. “While three long marches by PDM [ruling alliance Pakistan Democratic Movement] during the 3.5 years of PTI government were allowed without any hindrance, we faced the full force of state terror,” he said, alleging that houses were broken into by law enforcers and “PTI office-bearers and workers kidnapped.”
Emphasizing that his party was currently facing the “full fury of state power without any accountability,” Khan alleged that more than 10,000 party workers and supporters had been imprisoned, claiming some of them were being subjected to custodial torture.
“On the pretext of arson on May 9 (condemned by the entire PTI leadership), the state is trying to dismantle the party including ‘forced divorces’ and trying PTI members in military courts. Those in PDM and the journalist community who are cheerleaders for this yazeediyat should know that this is not dismantling PTI but our democracy i.e. our freedom,” he claimed, adding that this attempt to “enslave” the PTI would fail.