'Whatever Happened On May 9 Was Wrong,' Says Farrukh Habib As He Quits PTI

Former PTI leader says Imran Khan's attempts to evade arrests pushed people to clash with state institutions 

'Whatever Happened On May 9 Was Wrong,' Says Farrukh Habib As He Quits PTI

Former minister of state for information and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Farrukh Habib on Monday announced that he was parting ways with the party as he denounced the violence of May 9, terming the incidents of that day as "wrong".

Addressing a news conference on Monday at the offices of the Istehkam-e-Pakistan Party (IPP), a party launched by disgruntled members of PTI, Habib said that he was leaving the party. By doing so, he joined a growing cohort of party leaders who announced their separation from the PTI in the wake of the May 9 incidents.

Talking about the incidents of May 9, Habib sought to distance himself from any culpability, saying that he was not included in the group of party leaders who were given instructions about what to do.

Habib, who had helped form PTI's student wing back in the day and was an elected member of the National Assembly from Faisalabad, one of the cities which saw some of the worst violence on May 9, said that he was in the dark on what the party's planning, if any, was for that day.

However, he did admit that on May 9, emotions got the better of him and that he went a few steps too far. He also acknowledged that they urged people to pour into the streets to protest on May 9.

He said that innocent people were brainwashed into thinking that state institutions were working against them and their interests to incite them to get out of their houses and protest in the streets.

He added that following the incidents of May 9, they were forced to stay away from their homes for an extended period, fearing arrests.

Habib added that in the five months he spent in hiding, he had contemplated whether the politics they ended up being involved in were the same as the politics for which they had stepped into the field and adopted party colours.

A country like Pakistan cannot progress through such actions, he said.

"I took some time to make a decision on my own," he said, adding that during this time, he was supported by his friends.

Without directly blaming former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan, Habib said that the people expected a non-violent, democratic movement. But instead of choosing the 'ballot', he opted for the 'bullet', culminating in 24 hours of resistance and violence.

Morning and evening, he would cite examples of Nelson Mandela's non-violent movement [against Aparthied], but Mandella never encouraged youngsters to make petrol bombs and hurl them at the state, Habib said as he accosted Imran without naming him.

Politicians consider jails as the home of their in-laws, he said, adding that Imran ought to have presented himself for accountability by surrendering before the law. Instead, Habib said that Imran pushed the people to the point where they clashed with the very institutions built to protect them.

Habib said that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and former President Asif Ali Zardari were criticised for retaining gifts from the Toshakhana, but when he took power, Imran, too, retained expensive watches.

"Even if he paid for them, we [party members] did not even know about this," Habib disclosed tellingly.

Habib opined that it did not behove Imran Khan's stature to retain gifts from the Toshakhana.

He urged patience amongst the youth and asked them to undertake introspection that if someone's private property, like a car, was burnt on May 9, it belonged to a Pakistani citizen.

He said whatever happened on May 9 was wrong, adding that he had met with IPP Chairman Jahangir Tareen and was quitting the PTI to join the new party.

Separately, the Lahore High Court reserved its judgement on a case for recovering Farrukh Habib on Monday.

Police submitted a report in the court stating that Habib was not in their custody. However, they added that Habib was wanted in nearly 13 cases relating to May 9 incidents.

It is pertinent to note that last month, security forces apprehended Habib, among eight others, in the southwestern coastal city of Gwadar.