Islamabad: In a major setback for the jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan, a close aide and the former Secretary General of his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Asad Umar, has resigned from the party, citing disagreement with the party’s confrontational stance towards state institutions. Umar, a PTI leader for over a decade, announced his decision to “completely quit politics” ahead of the February 8 general elections.
Expressing his dissent with the party’s confrontational policy, Umar stated that it has led to a detrimental clash with state institutions, which is not in the country’s best interest. This resignation follows a series of senior party leaders leaving politics after the May 9 unrest when PTI supporters engaged in widespread violence, attacking government buildings and military installations following Imran Khan’s arrest on corruption charges.
As one of those arrested on May 10, Umar was released from Adiala Jail on the Islamabad High Court’s order, with a condition not to participate in violent protests. Subsequently, he resigned as the party’s secretary-general and withdrew from the PTI’s core committee. Umar faces allegations related to the May 9 violence and is implicated in the cipher case but has secured bail.
The exodus of party leaders, including former Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry and Sadaqat Ali Abbasi, who recently resigned during a live TV interview, reflects a trend of defection from Khan’s PTI. Many have formed factions with names similar to PTI. Dawn, in an analysis of the party’s decline, noted that since the May 9 events, PTI leaders have consistently followed a pattern: arrests, condemnation of violence, and then quitting the party or politics altogether.
Imran Khan and his former ministerial colleague Shah Mahmood Qureshi are currently indicted in the case and held in Adiala Jail.
The PTI, once at the heights of popularity, is now grappling with a wave of defections, signalling a shift from prominence to obscurity.