Press conferences galore

Y’ know, I’ve decided to join the PTI. Not because I believe in its ideology, which has been that accusation is proof, or because I’m dedicated to the idea that Imran Khan has a Godgiven right to rule, as because I think that is the easiest way to prove that I’m against the incidents of May 9, when the Corps Commander’s house was burnt down, when MM Alam’s plane at China Chowk was destroyed, and other military installations were attacked.

You see, looking at the stream of those leaving the PTI, I’ve realized that the easiest way of showing my disdain for what happened would be to hold a press conference and announce that, while condemning the May 9 incidents, I was leaving the party.

I wonder why Imran himself hasn’t executed one of his famous U-turns and left the PTI himself. As far as I can see, the only people still in the PTI are Mrs Imran, Shah Mehmud Qureshi and Ali Amin Gandapur.

I’ve noticed that no one left the party at once, immediately after May 9. One of the first big names in the party to leave, former Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari, only left after being first arrested under MPO Section 3, being bailed, and then re-arrested. Imran’s media team has also left him, whether it is Fawad Chaudhry or Firdous Ashiq Awan or Fayyazul Hassan Chauhan. You might guess things are serious when the secretary general of a party resigns, as Asad Umar has done.

Y’know, it does seem as if those from military backgrounds have decided to part ways. Asad Umar is a case in point. He is son of the late Maj-Gen (retd) Ghulam Umar, who was part of Yahya Khan’s inner team in 1971.Then there is Fawad Chaudhry. His grandfather, Ch Shehbaz Hussain, founded the family fortunes, one son becoming Punjab Governor, another Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court. Ch Shehbaz had been a subedar in the old British Indian Army. Actually, subedar’s sons didn’t do too badly: one, the son of a rissaldar (the equivalent cavalry rank), became a field marshal and the first military ruler of Pakistan. The rissaldar’s great-grandson, Umar Ayub Khan, also served in Imran’s cabinet.

His father, Gohar Ayub Khan, was briefly in the Army, and went into his father’s old unit, 4 Punjab, and his schoolmate and PMA coursemate, Asif Nawaz, also did. Now Asif Nawaz’s grand-daughter, Khadija Shah, was finally arrested for having led the crowd which torched the house of the Corps Commander Lahore. Her sacrifices for the party have been heartrending; not only does her cell lack an AC, but she is not being given mineral water.

In fact, Ali Amin Gandapur is the only Army brat I know still in the PTI (his father retired as a major). He has been detained, but has yet to hold a press conference.

Me, I would join the PTI only to hold a press conference announcing my departure. I would be the first ordinary member to hold such a press conference, for so far we’ve either been having national or provincial leaders or office-bearers. Further, I would be the first person to condemn the May 9 incidents without having been arrested.

It’s interesting that the PM should have called for the Corps Commander’s House arsonists to be given the same treatment as the Capitol Hill attackers (when in 2021 protesters tried to prevent Congress declaring Biden elected), on the same day as the first attackers were being sentenced after being found guilty. One of the attackers, who had come all the way from Florida, was given 20 years.

Well, I’ve been hearing that there’s talk of death sentences over here.  Just goes to show, I suppose. In the USA, if you attack the legislature, you get 20 years. Over here, if your followers hang their laundry on the railings outside Parliament, you get made Prime Minister. But if your supporters burn down a corps commander’s house, well, let’s see what happens to Imran’s followers.

Footnote to these notes: Ashraf Mumtaz has passed away.  I was his colleague for only a few years, but before that we had been in the field as reporters for our respective papers. A thorough gentleman, whom I at least will miss.





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