ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Usman Dar on Wednesday resurfaced weeks after he had gone missing and claimed that former prime minister Imran Khan had masterminded the May 9 attacks with an aim to remove Army Chief Gen Asim Munir from his position.
Dar appeared in a local TV channel programme and said that the long march of Chairman PTI Imran Khan was aimed at halting the appointment of army chief. He went on to say that Khan had information within the institution that protest could either influence the appointment of General Asim as the chief of army staff (COAS) or lead to his forced removal from the position.
On the other hand, PTI termed the interview “an old wine in a new bottle’ and said that Dar did the same under coercion. The party said that Dar was abducted by unknown persons from Karachi on September 10 and he resurfaced after 24 days – a claim that the local police has denied vehemently.
Dar in his interview also announced quitting the PTI and politics, saying that he initiated his political journey with the Imran-led party and was now concluding from the same starting point.
When Dar was asked about the “masterminds” of the May 9 violence, he said that the May 9 violence did not occur in a day. He blamed that Khan was supporting the anti-state narrative since his removal from the office of prime minister through a vote of no-confidence.
After the PTI was ousted from power, “two mindsets or groups” emerged within the party, one was the proponent of confronting with the state institution – Army – and other supported the politics of reconciliation, he said, adding that Khan supported those who wanted confrontation.
“Those wanted politics of confrontation included Azam Swati, Hammad Azhar, Murad Saeed and Farrukh Habib, he said and added, “The other mindset had the people like Asad Umar, Omar Ayub, Ali Muhammad Khan, Shafqat Mehmood and I, who were talking about reconciliation.”
Dar underlined that while May 9 attacks did not happen within a day as the circumstances leading to the riots were being created and such a situation could have erupted at any time.
It was a mindset as PTI had been discussing within its internal meetings that an attack on the state institution could be used as an option to bring it under pressure, he said. “There were discussions about the possibility of attacking state institutions in the event of Imran’s arrest.”
The PTI leader also attributed the current situation for the party to Imran Khan’s decisions, emphasizing that the forthcoming elections would determine the direction of the party. He said that if the governments in two provinces were not dissolved, the events of May 9 might not have occurred.”
Dar, who was once a close aide to PTI chief Khan, underlined that PTI’s foundations were severely shaken following the events of May 9. He pointed out that even the PPP and PML-N faced challenging times, but the impact was primarily on their second-tier leadership. In the case of PTI, it was the grassroots workers who faced the brunt of the bad situation.
In a strongly worded reaction, PTI said the interview had neither any significance in the public eye nor does it have any legal status.
After spending 24 days in the custody of unknown kidnappers, Dar’s appearance on a private TV channel undoubtedly exposed the kidnappers themselves, a spokesperson of the party said in a statement.
During this 24-day enforced disappearance, marks of physical and mental violence and coercion are evident from his trembling voice, hesitant body language and incoherent thoughts, he added.