Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Sadaqat Ali Abbasi on Monday announced he is resigning from the party and active politics, as he can no longer “carry the burden” of the May 9 riots.
In a previously recorded interview broadcast on Dawn News, Abbasi addressed questions about his absence from the limelight in the aftermath of the May 9 riots, including allegations from the PTI that he had been “abducted” by law enforcers. “I stayed with a friend for a month after it happened, then I moved to Gilgit-Baltistan with family,” he said, though was less clear on why it took him five months to part ways with the PTI if his issue was with the party’s anti-establishment narrative.
“I don’t want to stand with anything [PTI] that brings even an ounce of harm to my country,” he maintained, stressing he could not “carry the burden of the events of May 9 on my shoulders anymore.” When asked if he was giving the interview under pressure, he claimed the only pressure he was under was the weight of the cases pending against him. “I fear the law … there are a lot of FIRs registered against me. I do have the pressure of facing cases in court. There is no other pressure on me,” he said.
To a question on why he felt the party had targeted military assets on May 9, he claimed meetings of the PTI leadership had “generally” discussed the response if Imran Khan were arrested. “General discussion was around that if he gets arrested, the party workers will go out and he took names of the departments he wanted to go head-on-head with, making it clear that this fight is not political, it is a fight with a specific department,” he claimed.
Claiming the anti-establishment narrative was bolstered by several past and present members of the PTI who shared “radical” views, he specifically pointed to Shireen Mazari, Shahbaz Gill, and Murad Saeed as encouraging Khan’s sentiments. “Sometimes they would make such bold statements that even we would be worried,” he claimed, adding Khan had planned a “test” rally in Rawalpindi on May 6 during a meeting on May 4.
“He wanted to send a message that if I’m arrested, then the party’s target would be military installations,” Abbasi alleged, reiterating that the PTI’s “actual war was against the establishment.” He further alleged that there was a view within the party that Khan had been informed that his actions could lead to either the ouster of the incumbent Army chief or facilitation of the PTI’s demands.
To a question why the PTI had failed to effectively manage the situation on May 9, he claimed Khan had not adequately considered the consequences of his actions. “He did not weigh the fallout of his actions, and when he realized, it was too late,” he said.
Abbasi’s interview comes within days of his returning home after being “missing” for nearly a month. Last week, a video uploaded on social media showed him becoming emotional as he reunited with his elderly mother and other family members. He also secured pre-arrest bail from an Anti-Terrorism Court in Rawalpindi, reportedly just before he recorded the interview with Dawn News.