Ex-Punjab CM Usman Buzdar latest PTI leader to quit politics following May 9 violence

Lahore: Usman Buzdar, the former chief minister of Pakistan’s Punjab province, on Friday, became the latest leader of ex-prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party to quit politics in the aftermath of the May 9 violence.

Several PTI leaders, including former human rights minister and ousted prime minister Imran Khan’s close aide Shireen Mazari, have quit the party following the “Black Day” violence triggered by the arrest of the cricketer-turned-politician in the Al-Qadir case.

“First of all, I condemn the May 9 incidents. The military installations which were targeted were properties of the state of Pakistan and I believe we should avoid such incidents,” Buzdar told journalists during a press conference here.

Buzdar, whose term as chief minister was cut short in March 2022, said he had always stood with the armed forces of Pakistan and would continue to do so, Geo News reported.

”I have always committed to politics of nobility […] but due to the current circumstances, I have decided to quit politics,” the former chief minister, once considered close to Khan, the PTI chairman, said.

The former chief minister called on all stakeholders to reach a consensus and asked the authorities to release all those who were innocent from jail.

Khan’s party has been feeling the heat of the state’s might after his party workers burnt and attacked military installations, including the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, after the May 9 violence that left more than 10 persons dead.

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.

Other leaders and lawmakers who earlier distanced themselves from Khan’s party include Fawad Chaudhry, Shireen Mazari, Aamir Mehmood Kiani, Malik Amin Aslam, Mahmood Moulvi, Aftab Siddiqui, Fayyazul Hassan Chohan.

They have publicly denounced the attacks on the state installations and announced leaving the former ruling party since the May 9 vandalism.

Buzdar, who held the posts of secretary general and core committee member, citing the ongoing situation, requested all stakeholders to exit their parties and think for the better future of Pakistan.

Buzdar is currently facing a National Accountability Bureau inquiry into corruption cases. He was replaced as the Punjab chief minister by Chaudhry Parvez Elahi during the last days of the PTI government in Punjab province.