Mazari condemned the violence after the arrest of Khan on May 9, adding that she had given a similar undertaking in the Islamabad High Court
By: Chandrashekar Bhat
Shireen Mazari, Pakistan’s former human rights minister and a close aide of ousted prime minister Imran Khan, on Tuesday (23) quit the party and announced her retirement from active politics following her arrest over the recent violence.
Mazari, 72, made the announcement after she was released following her arrest for the fourth time since May 12 when she was picked from her residence by police and sent to jail. She served as the minister for human rights from 2018 to 2022, under Khan’s regime.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, she condemned the violence after the arrest of Khan on May 9, adding that she had given a similar undertaking in the Islamabad High Court.
“Not only the May 9 and 10 violence, but I’ve always condemned every kind of violence especially against state institutions and symbols like the General Headquarters, Supreme Court and Parliament,” she said.
She then announced to quit Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party as well as active politics, saying the arrest had adversely affected her health and family.
“From today, I’m not part of PTI or any active party because first [for me are] my family, my mother and kids,” she said.
Feeling the heat of legal processes, several PTI leaders have quit the party but none of them had enjoyed the stature of the liberal-minded Mazari. Her decision to part ways with Khan is being considered as a big political loss to the party.
Civil society including journalists expressed dismay at her decision and Geo News anchor Hamid Mir termed her retirement a “huge loss” for democracy and human rights activism.
Political analyst Mosharraf Zaidi said the development was an absolute disgrace for the government, the military and the country at large.
Mazari was arrested for the fourth time on Monday (22) after the Rawalpindi bench of the Lahore High Court had directed authorities to set her free if she was not required under any other case.
Her daughter Imaan Mazari-Hazir talking to the media after the court orders had said that the government should think and not destroy homes like this.
Mazari-Hazir had also lambasted Khan, saying that “it is a pity that party chief Imran Khan has forgotten the workers and leadership”.
Mazari was first arrested on May 12 from her residence in Islamabad as part of a crackdown launched by the federal government on PTI supporters following the May 9 attacks on military installations and government buildings.
On May 9, violent protests erupted after the arrest of Khan by paramilitary Rangers. His party workers vandalised a dozen military installations, including the Lahore Corps Commander house, Mianwali airbase and the ISI building in Faisalabad. The Army headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi was also attacked by the mob for the first time.
Police put the death toll in violent clashes to 10 while Khan’s party claims 40 of its workers lost their lives in the firing by security personnel.