Islamabad, May 31 (PTI) Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's former leaders on Wednesday met party's Vice-Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Adiala jail and tried to convince him to part ways with the deposed prime minister Imran Khan, who had announced that the former foreign minister will lead the party in case he is disqualified.
Citing the well-placed sources, Geo TV reported that a delegation of former leaders of Khan's party comprising Fawad Chaudhry, Imran Ismail, Mahmood Moulvi and Aamir Kiani met Qureshi in the prison and tried to convince him to part ways with Khan.
The sources claimed that the meeting was an attempt by the former PTI leaders to convince Qureshi to change his loyalty and join them, the channel said.
Qureshi, 66, served as Pakistan's foreign affairs minister from 2018 to 2022 under Khan's regime. He was among the top PTI leaders arrested after violent protests following Khan's arrest on May 9.
Addressing a press conference outside the jail following the meeting with Qureshi, Chaudhry - once a close aide of Khan - said that 250 million people could not be left at the mercy of the parties part of the Pakistan Democratic Movement — a multi-party ruling alliance led by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman.
"250 million people can’t be left at the mercy of (Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairman) Asif Ali Zardari and (Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz supremo) Nawaz Sharif,” said Fawad, who was flanked by former PTI leaders Ismail and Moulvi.
His remarks came amid rumours of the launch of a new political party, mostly comprising leaders of Khan's party.
"Pakistan has to move towards a permanent and stable solution, for which Qureshi is also ready to play a role,” he added.
Reacting to Fawad's remarks, PTI leader Hammad Azhar said that only party chief will make the final decision regarding any "solution or advice by a friend".
"I am a worker of Chairman Imran Khan and an office-bearer of the PTI. If any friend wants to suggest any solution or give advice, only Imran Khan will make the final decision,” he tweeted.
Following the May 9 incidents, several senior leaders of Khan's party were taken into custody. The leaders included Qureshi, Fawad, Asad Umar, Dr Yasmeen Rashid, Shireen Mazari, Maleeka Bukhari, and Fayyazul Hassan Chauhan.
A few days later, many prominent leaders including Fawad, Imran Ismail, Shireen Mazari, Fayyazul Hassan Chauhan, Firdaus Ashiq Awan and others quit Khan's party.
Khan, 70, who is facing more than 100 cases ranging from corruption to terrorism, said he sympathises will everyone who were pressurised to leave the party.
Fawad, who on May 24 announced that he was "taking a break from politics” and parting ways with the PTI chairman over May 9 mayhem, said the government cannot be given an open field in the absence of an active opposition.
He said that the group has contacted Ali Haider Zaidi, Pervez Khattak, Asad Umar, Asad Qaiser, Atif Khan, Farrukh Habib and other leaders, adding that they have to move towards a “stable solution”.
"All leaders are determined to make a stable Pakistan, and we hope to succeed in it," he said.
On May 9, violent protests erupted after the arrest of Khan by paramilitary Rangers in Islamabad. His party workers vandalised over 20 military installations and government buildings, including the Lahore Corps Commander House, Mianwali airbase and the ISI building in Faisalabad. The Army headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi was also attacked by the mob for the first time. Khan was later released on bail.
The violence elicited a strong reaction from the government and military with vows of taking action against the culprits, leading to an ongoing crackdown against those involved.
Law enforcement agencies have arrested over 10,000 workers of Khan's Pakistan party across Pakistan, 4,000 of them from Punjab province.
The Punjab Home Department has constituted 10 different joint investigation teams to probe into the attacks and violent protests on May 9, which the army dubbed "Black Day".
Fawad said that what happened on May 9 should not have happened, but after that, many innocent people have also been arrested and put in jails.
"It is our responsibility to get them released and we will fulfil it,” he said.
Earlier this month, the National Assembly, the lower house of Pakistan's Parliament, passed a resolution vowing to try May 9 rioters under the existing laws including the stringent Army Act and the Official Secrets Act.
Khan, a cricketer-turned-politician, was ousted from power in April last year after losing a no-confidence vote in his leadership, which he alleged was part of a US-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China and Afghanistan.