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PTI Leadership Exodus: Imran Khan to Decide Fate Amid Calls for Release of Political Prisoners

On Tuesday, Hammad Azhar, the Acting President of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in Punjab, emphasized that the fate of PTI leaders who have recently left the party will be determined by Imran Khan, the party’s leader.

Several prominent PTI figures, including close associates of Imran Khan, have departed since May 9, when the party’s supporters vandalized state installations following the arrest of the former prime minister.

Azhar stated on Twitter that many of those who held press conferences to announce their departure wish to return to the party, and Imran Khan will make decisions on a case-by-case basis. In a separate tweet, Azhar called for the release of all political prisoners, expressing concern about the prolonged incarceration of his colleagues who he claims are innocent.

He criticized the criminal justice system, urging authorities to refrain from turning it into a joke. Azhar also appealed to stop the practice of rearresting individuals after they have been granted bail. He argued for letting the people of Pakistan decide their leaders rather than manipulating the legal system for political reasons.

Azhar’s tweets followed claims by PML-N stalwart Khawaja Asif about former PTI leader Usman Dar attempting to reestablish connections with Imran Khan’s party. Usman Dar, along with other notable leaders, had left PTI after the events on May 9.

In response to questions about the possibility of former leaders receiving party tickets for the upcoming elections on February 8, 2024, PTI leader Senator Barrister Ali Zafar asserted that the party has a clear policy. Those who previously left the party will not be considered for tickets, and preference will be given to those who remained loyal during challenging times. However, Zafar noted that he is unsure if this policy may change in the future.

The PTI has been grappling with legal and political challenges, facing court battles and internal divisions as key leaders have resigned, largely in response to the events of May 9. The party’s members protested and faced arrests after Imran Khan’s arrest in the £190 million settlement case.

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