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    Secretary general of Imran Khan’s Opposition party resigns due to mass protests

    Asad Umar, the secretary general of the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party led by former Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced his resignation, condemning recent attacks on the country’s military facilities during the mass protests that shook Pakistan on May 9.

    “Not possible for me to lead party under these circumstances. I am resigning as Secretary General and core committee member of PTI,” Umar told a press conference in Islamabad, as quoted by Pakistani newspaper The Express Tribune.

    The politician condemned the May 9 violent protests sparked by Khan’s arrest and said that the attacks on the military facilities caused great concern, given the importance of the country’s army.

    “I think Imran Khan himself has best explained the army’s status in Pakistan. He said that we would have seen similar fate like Syria’s if it was not for a strong army like ours. Khan said that my country needs my army more than me,” Umar was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

    Given this, he urged a transparent investigation into the attacks and said that all those involved in the incidents should be brought to justice.

    At the same time, the politician noted that “thousands” of innocent PTI workers and supporters had been arrested in recent weeks and called for their immediate release.

    Umar is not the first official to leave the party following the protests sparked by the arrest of its leader.

    The riots, which claimed the lives of at least eight people, have caused a mass exodus from the PTI, Pakistani media reported.

    Among those who have announced their resignation are Khan’s deputies, Fawad Chaudhry and Shireen Mazari.

    In total, 37 people have left the party across Pakistan, Pakistani news portal Geo News reported.

    The former prime minister himself has said in his address to the nation that he is ready to start a dialogue with the military and the ruling authorities if they explain to him how the country would benefit from him quitting the political arena, Pakistani media reported.

    Khan was taken into custody on May 9 in connection with corruption involving the Al-Qadir Trust, which he heads together with his wife.

    The politician is facing an inquiry in the case related to a settlement between the PTI government and a property tycoon, which reportedly caused a loss of 50 billion Pakistani rupees ($17.6 million) to the national exchequer.

    Following Khan’s arrest, the PTI urged Pakistani citizens to gather for mass demonstrations to demand the politician’s release.

    Mass protests erupted across the country, with activists setting police vehicles on fire, attacking military facilities and damaging government property, and the police using gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd.

    Khan called on his supporters to hold peaceful protests and avoid violations of the law.

    On May 11, the Supreme Court of Pakistan declared the arrest of Khan illegal and ordered his immediate release.

    On Friday, the judicial board of the Islamabad Supreme Court released Khan on bail until May 26.

    It also barred law enforcement authorities from arresting Khan until May 17 in connection with any new case filed against him after May 9.

    On May 16, Islamabad police created a special squad to arrest PTI leaders responsible for the riots.

    Several Pakistani opposition leaders were arrested last week, but the Islamabad High Court demanded their immediate release.

    -The-Star

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