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Imran Khan loses second-in-command after Pak Army decides to roast May 9 rebels

Pakistan's ex-PM Imran Khan (left) appears to have fallen out with his second-in -command Shah Mahmood Qureshi

After Pakistan’s military on Wednesday spelled out Imran Khan’s doom, the ex-Prime Minister’s top lieutenant Shah Mahmood has shown visible signs of deserting him, leaving the former cricketer isolated, though still defiant.

Pakistani daily News International is reporting that a meeting between Khan, the head of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Qureshi Chairman Imran Khan and PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday ended on a bitter note.

Qureshi, the former foreign minister who was released from jail on Lahore High Court’s order met Khan in the country’s cultural capital. Qureshi had been arrested following the May 9 rebellion by Khan’s supporters targeting top military insitutions.

The two quarrelled on three key points. First, Qureshi advised Khan to beat a retreat and suspend his clash with the military, maintain silence, in case he doesn’t want to consider the option of going abroad.

There was context behind Qureshi’s advice to the ex-Prime Minister for a truce with the military or a tactical retreat from the battlefield as the odds against Khan had risen to unbearable level both in tonnage and volume.

On Wednesday, the military, with complete clarity had read out its verdict against Khan. The writing was on the wall for those less prone to delusion.

After a four-day huddle, Chief of Army Staff, Asim Munir and formation commander declared their firm resolve to root out ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan’s network that caused the May 9 rebellion against the army, sparing neither the rank and file nor the leaders of the conspiracy.

Gen. Munir’s line of thought was clear–no mercy would be shown towards those complicit in the May 09 attacks, irrespective of their elite status or otherwise. Even families of retired and serving generals would be in the firing line.

The military statement issued by the Inter Services Press Relations (ISPR) was unambiguous in pointing out that the perpetrators of the May 9 attacks, including the martyrs’ monuments, Jinnah House and military installations would be tried “speedily” under the Pakistan Army Act and Official Secret Act which are the derivatives of the Constitution of Pakistan. The statement implied that the cases will fall out of the jurisdiction of the Pakistani judiciary especially the Supreme Court of Pakistan, including Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial and the Lahore High court, which has shielded Khan and his top lieutenants.

Besides, both the rank and file and the masterminds of the May 9 attack, which is unlikely to exclude the ex-Prime Minister would be candidates for the firing squad or the hangman’s noose. “It has been further stressed that, while the legal trials of perpetrators and instigators have commenced, it is time that noose of law is also tightened around the planners and masterminds who mounted the hate ripened and politically driven rebellion against the state and state institutions to achieve their nefarious design of creating chaos in the country,” the statement blared. The phrase “noose of law” appeared deliberately used, evoking memories of the hanging of former Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto by the military regime of late Gen.Ziaul Haq.

Second, fully aware of the context, Qureshi told Khan to reign in his emotions for the delicate situation demanded wise decisions.

Third, Qureshi told Khan that his back was to the wall and dependence on retired people, which have included ex-servicemen, was futile.

But Qureshi’s sane advice triggered a war of words between the two, following which, Qureshi left Khan’s Zaman Park residence in a huff, and headed for Karachi to attend to his ailing wife.

The daily said that all of Qureshi’s phone numbers were found switched off when efforts were made to contact him to confirm these developments.

Following the acerbic meeting, Khan released a defiant video where he vowed not to back off and to fight till his last breath.

In tune with the military statement of intent, life pulsated on the political front with Pakistan’s hard-boiled politicians contemplating a post-Imran scenario, when they would be back among rulers. In the hunt for power Jahangir Tareen, a onetime Imran ally has been quickly off the blocks. On Tuesday he formally announced the birth of Istekaam-e-Pakistan, his new political party.

As reported by India Narrative earlier, Tareen was set to announce the formation of a new national-level.

Tareen had been activated to form a strong faction comprising majority of electable Members of the National Assembly (MNAs) and Members of the Provincial Assemblies (MPAs) who can play a major role in any future set up. Besides, many political families from Dera Ghazi Khan, Rajanpur, Muzaffargarh, Lodhran and Multan are expected to dock with Tareen.

Many “important leaders” from Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan have also got in touch with the former PTI leader. The daily said that Tareen will be patron-in-chief of the party.

Tareen was the secretary general of the PTI before he was ousted from politics in 2017 after a Supreme Court ruling.

Simultaneously, former Prime Minister Asif Zardari is also trying to position the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in pole position for elections which could take place later this year or next year given the current turmoil.

Pak insiders told India Narrative that that as PTI erodes, the PPP Co-Chairman is luring “electables” from Punjab, focusing on South Punjab, with the ultimate goal of elevating Bilawal Bhutto to the prime ministerial slot.

Also Read: Pak Army Chief Asim Munir goes for the jugular, to invoke Army Act to dock masterminds of May 9 revolt