Amid rumours of more defections, Asad Umar, Asad Qaisar say no contact with Jahangir Tareen

ISLAMABAD: With Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) is facing a new challenge every day, party’s two senior leaders have clarified they have no contact with Jahangir Tareen’s group who is planning to launch a new party.

PTI’s former secretary-general Asad Umar on Monday told media he had no contact with Jahangir Khan Tareen, who used to be a close aide of PTI chief Imran Khan before heading a group of dissidents in the party.

The PTI leader, who had quit his party positions on May 24 but had not resigned from the party altogether, made the remarks outside an Islamabad court where he appeared in a case pertaining to violent protests in the country on May 9.

Umar’s remarks come amid reports of the Tareen group which had emerged as a faction in the PTI comprising the party’s dissident parliamentarians stepping up efforts to poach as many PTI defectors as it can to swell its ranks ahead of general elections.

In recent days, several PTI members, including prominent leaders, have parted ways with the party following a state crackdown on it over allegations of their involvement in vandalism during May 9 protests following the arrest of the PTI chief.

On May 29, Tareen held a meeting with former PTI leader Abdul Aleem Khan at his residence in the provincial capital. The meeting was also attended by former minister Ishaq Khakwani, PM’s aide Aown Chaudhry, Saeed Akbar Niwani and Shoaib Siddiqui.

Though there has been no word from the Tareen group regarding their re-entry to the political arena, reports suggest that the former PTI leader and financier would re-launch his political career with a new political party.

On Saturday, the Tareen-led group held a meeting in Lahore in which PTI defector Sardar Tanveer Ilyas, the former prime minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, participated and announced that he would be moving forward with the group.

“Our understanding with Jahangir Tareen is that we will move forward together. The work regarding forming a new party is also underway,” Ilyas said.

Nauman Langrial, another member of the Tareen group, said the association was seriously considering forming a new party.

“Although no final decision has yet been made, we will likely form a new party. We are in contact with the former PTI leaders. Big names will join us soon,” he said. He said that after the May 9 riots, things had changed and the people were not with “Imran Khan’s PTI”, adding that “we will welcome anyone who is ready to leave the PTI and its narrative”.

During today’s court appearance, Umar was hounded by reporters who asked him about joining Tareen. “What connection do I have with Jahangir Tareen?” Umar responded to the queries.

Another reporter then asked the PTI leader whether Tareen had been in contact with him, to which Umar shook his head in denial.

However, he did state that Fawad Chaudhry — who had resigned from the party last month — remained in touch from “time to time”.

Umar was also asked whether he was facing any “pressure”. He promptly replied that the only “pressure” he was facing was appearing before different courts every day.

“Since my release from Adiala Jail, I have attended more than eight court hearings,” he said.

Meanwhile, a district and sessions court in Islamabad extended Umar’s bail in a case registered at the Tarnol police station in connection with May 9 riots till June 10. Additional sessions judge Tahir Abbas Supra presided over the hearing during which the associate prosecutor said that the prosecutor’s father had passed away. He requested the court to adjourn the hearing. The court extended the PTI leader’s bail for five more days without conducting any proceedings.

I stand by PTI, says Asad Qaiser

At a time when many of the PTI leaders and former lawmakers are dissociating themselves from the party, Asad Qaiser the National Assembly speaker on Monday made it clear that he had not switched sides.

He was standing by the party and in contact with the PTI chief, Qaiser told reporters outside a local court where he attended the hearing of a case pertaining to the vandalism outside the federal capital’s judicial complex.

“I am with [Pakistan] Tehreek-i-Insaf and in touch with the PTI chairman.”

The latest assertion is in complete contrast with what the people had seen last week when Pervez Khattak, addressing a presser in Islamabad along with Qaiser, had announced his decision to quit as the PTI president.

However, Qaiser remained silent during the event where Khattak had condemned the May 9 mayhem and said it wasn’t possible for him to continue as a PTI office holder, adding that he would announce his future plan later after consulting his friends and party colleagues.

And on Monday, Qaiser said he wasn’t in contact with Jahangir Tareen. He was replying to a question about whether Tareen had contacted him as the influential politician from Lodharan is currently busy in forming a new political party mostly comprising the PTI defectors.

Qaiser repeated his position that he was still in the PTI when a reporter pressed him about the claim made by Fawad Chaudhry who had talked about contacting the former speaker and other party leaders.

Earlier in the day, PTI’s former general secretary Asad Umar said Tareen had not reached out to him, but added that Fawad maintained regular contact.

Meanwhile, Asad Qaiser’s brother Aqibullah along with his colleagues called on PTI Chairman Imran Khan and held out assurance that they would firmly stand with him despite worst crackdown by the fascist government.

During the meeting here on Monday, they discussed the prevailing political situation of the country threadbare. Asad Qaiser’s brother Aqibullah along with his associates expressed complete solidarity with PTI Chairman and support for the PTI.

Aqibullah made it clear: “We were, are and will continue to stand with PTI come what may.”

He vowed that they would standing firm with Chairman PTI and the party despite the worst crackdown against the party and its leaders and workers. Aqibullah stated that the fascist government could not dampen their courage despite unleashing reign of terror against PTI.


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