On Saturday (19 August), PTI Vice Chairman and Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi was arrested from his Islamabad residence, his party PTI said. The party termed his arrest as an illegal act and claimed that a large consignment of Police have taken him to the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) headquarters.
تحریک انصاف کے خلاف غیرقانی ہتھکنڈے مسلسل جاری
تحریک انصاف کے وائس چیئرمین شاہ محمود قریشی ایک بار پھر غیرقانی طور پر گرفتار
شاہ محمود قریشی کو اسلام آباد میں ان کی رہائشگاہ سے پولیس کی بھاری نفری نے گرفتار کیا
شاہ محمود قریشی کو ایف آئی اے ہیڈکوارٹر منتقل کیا جارہا ہے
— PTI (@PTIofficial) August 19, 2023
Notably, the FIA is currently interrogating Former Pakistan PM and PTI Chief Imran Khan who is behind bars. The Federal agency is grilling Khan in connection with a diplomatic cable that reportedly went missing from his custody. Apparently, it was the same cable that he presented for a long time as evidence of a “foreign conspiracy” against him. On the basis of this purported cable, Khan had claimed that the US wanted to oust him from Prime Minister’s office and install a puppet regime.
Condemning the arrest Ayub said, “Had hoped that the reign of lawlessness would have ended after the exit of the fascist PDM government, but it appears that this caretaker government wants to break the records of their predecessor fascist government.”
Following the development, PTI General Secretary Omar Ayub claimed that Qureshi was taken into custody after he had addressed a consequential press conference. He added that during the PC, Qureshi confirmed that he had a meeting with foreign ambassadors recently.
Vice Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureishi sahib arrested from his house in Islamabad 25 minutes ago. He had just reached home after doing a Press Conference. Condemn this in the strongest words possible. Had hoped that the reign of lawlessness would…
— Omar Ayub Khan (@OmarAyubKhan) August 19, 2023
PTI leader Farrukh Habib too claimed that Qureshi was arrested for “expressing the party’s position in a press conference and for attending a tea of foreign ambassadors recently”. Without explicitly mentioning the Army, he targeted the Pakistani military for muzzling dissenting voices and abolishing the Constitution of Pakistan.
پارٹی موقف پریس کانفرنس میں بیان کرنے اور گزشتہ دنوں غیر ملکی سفرا کے ناشتہ کی دعوت میں شرکت کی سزا میں وائس چیئرمین شاہ محمود قریشی کو گرفتار کر لیا گیا ہے۔ یہ چاہتے ہے جیسے تیسے بھی پارٹی لیڈر شپ کو پابند سلاسل کرکے تمام آوازوں کو خاموش کردیا جائے۔
پاکستان کے آئین میں دیے گے… pic.twitter.com/aYcUAtNoCs
— Farrukh Habib (@FarrukhHabibISF) August 19, 2023
Similarly, former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa finance minister Taimur Jhagra too condemned his arrest. He argued that this can’t be a coincidence that first some rumours were deliberately circulated in the media claiming that the PTI has suffered a vertical split. But when Qureshi and other party leaders negated it strongly, the authorities arrested Qureshi after he addressed a press conference earlier in the day. He categorically asserted that the law should not be made a joke.
Condemn Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s arrest. Is it a coincidence that SMQ was arrested after a press conference of the right sort, that presented his party’s stance? Is it a coincidence that just earlier today, rumours had been deliberately circulated that there were differences… https://t.co/xeHcKRvvCQ
— Taimur Khan Jhagra (@Jhagra) August 19, 2023
Chronological development of the day: Press Conference followed by his arrest
Earlier, Qureshi addressed a press conference at the National Press Club in Islamabad alongside other PTI leaders. In the PC, Qureshi confirmed that he had a breakfast meeting with the Australian high commissioner in Islamabad and added that other important ambassadors were also present in the meeting.
Addressing the media, Qureshi stated that the PTI presented its stance on the current political situation to the ambassadors present there and raised security concerns about the current situation.
However, he refuted the reports that the release of PTI Chief Imran Khan was discussed in the meeting. Going ahead, he also dismissed media reports of a further split within the residue of PTI, once the ruling party in Pakistan.
Earlier, Geo News reported that after Imran Khan’s arrest on 5 August in the Toshakhana case, PTI’s core committee saw another split as well as infighting. The report added that both Vice Chairman Qureshi and Secretary General Ayub allegedly attempted to succeed Imran as the party chief.
However, Qureshi and the entire PTI leadership asserted that Imran Khan was our chairman, he is and will remain, everyone agrees on his character, and everyone is connected with his vision. They maintained that there is no leadership conflict in the party.
عمران خان ہمارے چئیرمین تھے ہیں اور رہیں گے,ان کی ذات پر سب متفق ہیں سب ان کے ویژن کے ساتھ جڑے ہوئے ہیں
— PTI (@PTIofficial) August 19, 2023
Regarding infighting and power struggle for PTI’s top leadership, Qureshi said, “Such news [of further rifts] is concocted, a plan of disinformation and part of a scheme to create confusion in the party rank and file and to affect their minds. There is no truth to this and it will break down in due time.”
Qureshi added that the claim being made about him and Ayub trying to take over the party had “no truth to it”. According to him, Ayub had immediately responded to the allegation with a post on X, and negated reports that wanted to create confusion.
He too asserted that Imran was still the chairman and the core committee had passed a resolution affirming the same.
The eventful day ended with a press conference in which the entire PTI leadership seemed to be on the same page, which seemingly rattled the army. Ever since, Former Pakistan PM Khan decided to lock horns with the Military establishment, the Army had been taking all coercive steps to dismantle the organisational structure and cadre of PTI and jail its leadership. The arrest of Qureshi is seen as a part of its massive crackdown on PTI disguised in the pretext of investigation.