Defectors from ex-Pak PM Imran Khan's party form new outfit

By Press Trust of India: A group of former provincial lawmakers who quit ex-prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party over the May 9 attacks on sensitive military installations and government buildings, on Monday floated a new outfit called the “Democrats.”

The former home minister of the Punjab province Hashim Dogar who quit Khan’s PTI last month, is leading this outfit, which also includes former education minister Dr Murad Raas.

There was no clarity over whether this outfit will align with some of the bigger political parties like the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) or Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

Neither has there been any information on whether the “Democrats” plans to register with the Election Commission of Pakistan.

“One thing is clear, that the Democrats will continue acting as an opposition to the ruling Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM),” Raas was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.

On May 9, violent protests erupted after paramilitary Rangers arrested 70-year-old Khan, the chairman of PTI, from the Islamabad High Court premises in connection with a corruption case.

Khan’s party workers vandalised a dozen military installations, including the Lahore Corps Commander House, the Mianwali airbase and the ISI building in Faisalabad in response to his arrest.

The mob also stormed the Army headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi for the first time.

Thousands of Khan’s supporters were arrested following the violence that the powerful Army described as a “dark day” in the history of the country.

The crackdown launched after May 9 violent protests have thrown PTI into a deep existential crisis with dozens of key party leaders quitting the party on a daily basis.

Khan on Monday said Pakistanis are living in the “dark ages” as the authorities were using Nazi Germany-era law of kin punishment against his supporters amid silence from the Supreme Court.

Dogar and Raas are some of the prominent legislators, along with PTI’s Secretary General Asad Umar, senior leader Fawad Chaudhry and former minister Shireen Mazari, to have parted ways.

So far, over 100 leaders and former lawmakers have quit PTI, with Pakistan’s law-enforcement agencies having arrested over 10,000 workers from various parts of the country.

Last 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 former 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.

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