Security surrounds Imran Khan (C), former prime minister and chairman of opposition party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), as he arrives at a court in Lahore, Pakistan, 24 March 2023. EFE/EPA/FILE/RAHAT DAR

Pakistan’s former PM Khan abandoned by party members amid political crisis

Islamabad, May 24 (EFE). Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan has been steadily witnessing close aides and members of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI) leave his side amid deepening political crisis that has gripped the nation for over a year.

Shireen Mazari, a very close aide to Khan and former minister for human rights, on Tuesday announced leaving the PTI as well as stepping down from participating in active politics, citing family reasons.

Mazari, along with other several PTI leaders, was arrested under the notorious Maintenance of Public Order ordinance.

She was granted bail by courts five times but was re-arrested immediately on release on each occasion.

“From today, I’m not part of PTI or any active party because first (for me are) my family, my mother and kids,” she said.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi, second-in-command to Khan, was also re-arrested minutes after being released from the Adiala jail in Rawalpindi on Tuesday evening.

Speaking briefly to the media before boarding a police vehicle, Qureshi rejected the rumors that he was quitting too.

“I was in the party, I am, and will remain InshahAllah (God willing),” said Qureshi, former foreign minister of Khan’s cabinet.

Responding to the development, Khan took to Twitter saying there was currently no rule of law in the country.

“We are now being governed by law of the jungle, might is right and the only thing standing in its way is our judiciary,” tweeted the PTI chairman.

He said the constitution is being brazenly violated along with rulings by the Supreme Court, and the Police are being used to crush the PTI.

On May 9, Khan was arrested by the paramilitary force Rangers from the Islamabad High Court on corruption charges, which sparked violent protests across the country.

Khan was released on bail three days after his arrest. On Tuesday, he presented himself before the investigator of National Accountability Bureau, the graft-watchdog investigating the case against him.

The former premier, who was ousted in a vote of no confidence last year, faces over 100 cases with charges including terrorism, sedition and corruption.

Since Khan’s arrest, over a dozen PTI members including Khan’s aides have left his party while condemning May 9 violence during which military properties and installations were vandalized and burned down.

The government and the military have announced they will prosecute the rioters in military courts, where trials are held behind closed doors.

“Well, everyone knows why they are leaving the party, our members are being forced by the military to leave the PTI,” a party member told EFE on condition of anonymity because accusing the military without any evidence can invite sedition charges. EFE