'Leave Politics And Go To UK, Or End Up In Jail', Shah Mahmood Qureshi Told Imran Khan

'Leave Politics And Go To UK, Or End Up In Jail', Shah Mahmood Qureshi Told Imran Khan
The message behind Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) vice chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi's meeting with party chief and former Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan after he was released from jail was the message of the establishment, according to journalist Asad Toor. Imran Khan was "given options" by Shah Mahmood Qureshi which, if they were not accepted, would result in Khan facing a long stint in prison, along with disqualification from public office.

In his latest vlog, Asad Toor recounted the context behind meetings of senior PTI leaders and PTI chairman Imran Khan after May 9. Toor said that after Qureshi's arrest for the 'May 9 events', he was released on the condition that he would leave PTI. However, things were different with Shah Mahmood Qureshi, according to Toor. "A meeting was arranged with Fawad Chaudhry and other leaders in the jail which was facilitated by the establishment," Toor claimed, adding that "the second meeting was held with Imran Khan for which Qureshi was specially released from jail".

Before this, Qureshi was released twice, but both times he was arrested as soon as he was released. He was also given an opportunity to talk to the media after his release from jail, in which he said that the party's flag is in his hand and he would soon meet the party chairman Imran Khan to discuss how to improve the situation.

Earlier, Asad Umar held a press conference after his release and announced his resignation from the party position of secretary general. He clarified that he was not leaving the party and would meet Imran Khan soon. Later, he told the media in the courtroom that he had no party position and no responsibility, and asked why he should meet Khan.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi reached Imran Khan's house at Zaman Park with a message from the military establishment based on some options the day after his release. The meeting lasted for an hour. After the meeting, Shah Mahmood was supposed to hold a press conference, but he did not. The meeting was during the day, and in the evening, the ISPR issued a very stern press release in which it said - without taking names, of course - that PTI will be crushed. The implication being drawn by many is that leaders who are in hiding will not be spared, and 'project Imran Khan' will necessarily be brought to a logical end.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi told Imran Khan openly in this meeting all the things which were covered in the press release. Imran Khan was told that there was an attempt by him to link military aid to the US with the crackdown on PTI in Pakistan. This was strongly disliked by the army and asked to stop them. "What are they doing? They will kill the few remaining chances of reconciliation with the military and make the PTI null and void," Qureshi told Khan.

Imran Khan was also asked to stay away from politics and the party for some time. And hold a press conference for him to say that he was taking a break from politics. Qureshi purportedly asked Khan to say, "whatever happened, I did not want something like this to happen in the country. This was not my intention. But whatever I kept saying had the unintended effect of people in the party mistaking what I said and going down another path, which I deeply regret. And because of this sadness, I am staying away from the party and politics for some time. Shah Mahmood Qureshi will lead the party and I am sure he will bring the party back to its true mission".

Khan will then step aside from politics, in which case he will be allowed to travel abroad and join his ex-wife Jemima Khan and sons Qasim and Sulaiman as well as alleged daughter Tyrian White in the UK. He can stay away from politics as long as he wants and Imran Khan will be called back when a new government comes in Pakistan and things go wrong with the government and the establishment. He has been offered that now he will play a role like Tahir-ul-Qadri in politics. They will be called in and facilitated whenever the situation between the military establishment and the government is tense. Shah Mahmood Qureshi is said to have told Khan, "I will inform you myself when such an opportunity arises".

Shah Mahmood Qureshi informed Imran Khan that the May 9 incident was like 9/11 for the Pakistan Army. "And your trial will be in a military court," Qureshi warned his party chairman, adding that "you will be punished and you will not even be able to go to jail".

"If you don't do that - if you don't retire, don't hand over the party to me and don't give an opportunity to negotiate with the establishment - then you will definitely have a military trial," Qureshi reportedly told Khan.

Khan was also given "a clear message" in terms of what can be done to his party. "All the people have left, and all your escape routes are blocked. So now you can't win any election you want. And if you continue in this way, it will be difficult for me and others to stay in the party," Qureshi lamented to Khan, saying that he (Khan) would "be left alone and your status will be like that of PTI in 2002 when it was only a one-seat party, but this time you won't be able to win that either, as you would have been disqualified by then".

According to media reports, Khan and Qureshi had 'a frank exchange of views', but the ground reality is much different. The PTI chairman neither expressed anger nor had a bitter conversation with Shah Mahmood, but this time, he expressed extreme concern over the seriousness of the situation and the absence of any escape route, that it was a direct threat to his political future. At which Shah Mahmood said, "whatever you may think, you only have this option. Think about it. Inform me of the decision and I will go to the military establishment and sort things out. If you do not do this, you will surely be arrested soon and then a long imprisonment and punishment will await you".