As Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) bigwigs — including the outspoken spokesperson Fawad Chaudhary and Senior Vice-President Dr Shireen Mazari — abandon the party right, left and center, the party’s chairman, Imran Khan, has ordered that the basic membership of all defectors be revoked, sources revealed on Friday.
Moreover, Khan has instructed that all defectors be removed from the party’s WhatsApp groups, the sources added.
The large-scale desertions are a result of the increasingly-intense crackdown against PTI and its leaders, following the mayhem that spread across the country in the two days following Khan’s arrest on May 9.
Amongst those who have recently abandoned the party and — according to sources — removed from the WhatsApp groups are Jamshed Cheema and his wife Mussarrat.
The references of defectors will be updated on social media accounts.
While so far, no references have been shared, the PTI’s official Twitter account has shared and retweeted posts declaring the defections to be what it refers to as “forced divorces”.
Moreover, in a separate Tweet, Khan said that his party was facing “the full force of state terror.”
“Last year on the 25th of May commenced our descent into fascism. While three long marches by PDM during the 3.5 years of PTI govt were allowed without any hindrance, we faced the full force of state terror.
“Houses broken in the middle of the night and PTI office bearers and workers kidnapped. And then whoever got to Islamabad faced tear gas, rubber bullets and police brutality.
“Some of us thought it was one off but that was just the beginning.
“Today the largest and the only federal party is facing the full fury of state power without any accountability. Over 10,000 PTI workers and supporters in jail including senior leadership and some facing custodial torture,” Khan tweeted.
He further added: “On the pretext of arson on 9th May (condemned by the entire PTI leadership) the state is trying to dismantle the party including “forced divorces” and trying PTI members in military courts. Those in PDM and the journalist community who are cheerleaders for this yazeediyat should know that this is not dismantling PTI but our democracy i.e. our freedom.
“However this attempt to enslave us will fail as we have a politically aware young population who despite media being muzzled gets its information from Social Media.”
Khan’s party has been feeling the heat of the state’s might after his party workers burnt and smashed military installations, including the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, after his arrest on May 9 — a day the army dubbed as “Black Day”.
Several party leaders and thousands of workers have been rounded up in connection with the violent protests and the army has insisted that the people involved in attacks on military installations be tried under the Pakistan Army Act and the Official Secrets Act.
A close aide of Khan, Asad Umar, has relinquished his posts of secretary general and core committee member, citing the ongoing situation.
Several party leaders and lawmakers — including Fawad Chaudhary, Shireen Mazari, Aamir Mehmood Kiani, Malik Amin Aslam, Mahmood Moulvi, Aftab Siddiqui, Fayyazul Hassan Chohan, Maleeka Bokhari among others — have publicly denounced the attacks on the state installations and announced leaving the former ruling party since the May 9 vandalism.