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As Govt Mulls Banning PTI, More Politicians Leave Imran Khan's Side

© AFP 2023 ARIF ALISecurity personnel with ballistic shields escort former Pakistan's prime minister Imran Khan (C) as he leaves after appearing at the High Court in Lahore on May 19, 2023.
Security personnel with ballistic shields escort former Pakistan's prime minister Imran Khan (C) as he leaves after appearing at the High Court in Lahore on May 19, 2023. - Sputnik India, 1920, 26.05.2023
Many top politicians and thousands of workers associated with Imran Khan's party, PTI, have been arrested in connection with the vandalism of military installations after his arrest on May 9.
With the Shehbaz Sharif-headed government continuing its crackdown on the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), another batch of senior politicians deserted former premier Imran Khan's political outfit, local media reported on Friday.
Among the latest prominent names to disassociate themselves from the PTI were — Maleeka Bokhari, Jamshed Cheema, and Musarrat Jamshed Cheema.
"I condemn the events that transpired on May 9. For every Pakistani, the events that took place on May 9 are very painful," Bokhari, a former member of the National Assembly told reporters in Islamabad.
Denying allegations leveled by the cricketer-turned-politician against state authorities that they were "coercing" senior members of the PTI to desert the party, Bokhari added that "no one forced me into making this decision".
Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks during a news conference at his home, in Lahore, Pakistan, Thursday, May 18, 2023. - Sputnik India, 1920, 25.05.2023
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In another media interaction, Jamshed Cheema, who served as the Special Assistant to Imran Khan in his erstwhile government that fell in April last year, said that he and his wife Musarrat Jamshed were disassociating themselves from the party.
Musarrat Jamshed is a former member of Punjab's provincial assembly.
Cheema said that they were abandoning the PTI as party workers attacked the headquarters of the army and ransacked other military properties.

"I was there at the Corps Commander House myself. It saddened me to see what was happening there. The people who were involved in it should be punished," Cheema said. "This career [..] is in our blood … it was not an easy decision to leave politics. You serve the nation in politics, but not at the cost of armed forces … not at the cost of people who protect the country."

Besides the three, other Senators and provincial assembly members who quit PTI were Mohammad Abdul Qadir, Mumtaz Ahmad Maharvi, Asif Manzoor Mohal Malik Akram Kanhon, Javed Ansari, Dr. Muhammad Afzal, Chaudhry Ehsanul Haq, Ch Jehanzeb Rasheed, and Saeed Akbar Niwani.
These desertions come after some of Khan's closest aides, including ex-federal information minister Fawad Chaudhry, party general secretary Asad Umar, and women's face of PTI, Shireen Mazari, resigned from their respective posts in the party.
It is worth noting that while all of them have denied "pressure" from the government as the factor behind their decision, they chose to part ways with the PTI only hours after their release from jail.
All these PTI politicians were rounded up by law enforcement agencies for their alleged role in inciting violent protests that engulfed Pakistan following Khan's arrest earlier this month.

Sharif Gov't Eyeing Ban on PTI

Another factor that could be behind the growing number of resignations from the PTI was the government's proposed plan to ban the party.
On Wednesday, Pakistan Defense Minister Khawaja Asif did confirm that such a proposal was indeed in the works but a final decision was yet to be taken.
"A decision has not been taken yet, but a review is surely underway," the minister informed media persons in Islamabad.