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Thursday, June 20, 2024  
13 Dhul-Hijjah 1445  

Who did it best in PTI’s summer of condemnations and resignations

All resignations have the same two-sentence skeleton
A combination of file photos show Asad Umar (L), Shireen Mazari (C), Fawad Chaudhry (R). Photos via PTI/National Assembly of Pakistan
A combination of file photos show Asad Umar (L), Shireen Mazari (C), Fawad Chaudhry (R). Photos via PTI/National Assembly of Pakistan

Fayaz Chohan’s meandering press conference on Tuesday went on for a little too long. By the time he had completed his long list of services to the party, and furnished multiple complaints of being ignored by its leadership, the TV screens had already stopped showing him.

With his video buried under more important news items, he said what the reporters wanted to hear: he would be leaving the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf but would stay in politics.

Chohan’s press conference is an outlier, and not just because of how long it went on. It revealed that his reasons for leaving PTI were personal and deep-rooted and that is not how the other press conferences sounded.

All the other press conferences were built on a similar two-statement structure. I condemn what happened, and I will have nothing to do with anything anymore ever again. You would almost think they were copying each other’s words but changing it just a little bit. MNAs, MPAs, regional presidents and senior presidents have left the party; they all followed the same pattern.

Although it came a week after the departures had begun, Shireen Mazari’s press conference was perhaps the most clearly structured and the most impactful. She said she condemned the violence on May 9– actually she condemned all sorts of violence. She then said she would have nothing to do with her party. Actually, she would never have anything to do with any other party either.

Naturally, she was not arrested again.

Of course, some differences were to be found in the press conferences. Take Amir Kayani for example, who contextualized his condemnation of the May 9 incidents by saying that he had a long family relationship with the army and realized how important it was.

Then there was Fawad Chaudhry, who spent his day from noon to midnight inside the high court last Tuesday to avoid re-arrest. When he finally came out of the court the exhausted, yawning, reporters were expecting some fireworks.

But they would be disappointed, Fawad simply came to the microphones and said he condemned the events of May 9. The ball on party resignations had not quite gotten rolling till then, so he did not have to mention that part. After he made the announcement, he found that no one was actually interested in arresting him. So he got into a car with his wife and left.

The next anyone heard from him was a another week later. He mentioned that he had already condemned the events of May 9 and now he had decided that he would take a ‘break’ from politics.

Fawad did not give the cameras the satisfaction of recording him at an emotional moment. The visuals of him rushing inside the high court premises, out of breath, were not exactly inspiring. He simply tweeted it out.

When Asad Umar’s lawyer went to the Islamabad High Court on Wednesday hoping to secure him bail after over two weeks in jail, Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb didn’t just ask him for an affidavit, he dropped another important point.

“They will not let you go until you hold a press conference.”

And he did hold a press conference later that day. The tall man walked into Islamabad’s press club alone, in clothes coloured grey like his mood.

Asad meandered more smartly than Chohan. He said Pakistan has five major stakeholders, identified each one and then presented a solution out of the crisis. He then said he was quitting his party position but would stay with the party.

‘Negotiated like a CEO’ someone said on Twitter, and that sounds accurate. Business deals often have non-discolure agreements built into them. Asad added that no one had pressured him to make the decision. Of course no one did.

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