Islamabad: Usman Dar, one of former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s closets aides who served head of the PTI’s Tiger Force, seems to have decided to change sides and become an “approver” against his party chief in the 9 May riots and vandalism case.
Besides serving as head of the Tiger force, an organisation formed to induct and promote young volunteers to work for the party, Dar was also the former Special Assistant to Khan on Youth Affairs, under which the Kamyaab Jawaan programme was launched.
In an interview to a TV channel, Dar claimed that the planning and execution strategy for the riots was done at the the former premier’s residence at Zaman Park, Lahore
“The May 9 incident was planned at meetings chaired by Imran Khan as PTI chief at his Zaman Park residence in Lahore. Imran Khan had himself given instructions for targeting military installations,” he said.
“It was discussed that we should attack state institutions if needed in order to put pressure on them (military establishment).”
Dar said that there were two camps formed in the party — one was inclined towards reconciliatory approach towards state institutions, while the other side was tilted towards the narrative of creating aggressive narrative and taking the institutions heads on.
“Murad Saeed, Hammad Azhar and Azam Swati were among the group that wanted Khan to adopt the anti-establishment stance. And Imran Khan used to listen to them and agree with it as well,” he claimed.
“The arrest of Imran Khan has been made into a massive event in itself as there were people called in to sit outside Zaman Park in Lahore. Imran Khan had directed all to ensure that there were lots of people around the house present all the time. He told us all to not let the authorities arrest him and resist them by any means possible.”
Dar also alleged that the reason behind the crowd outside Khan’s residence was to create a human shield to thwart attempts by the authorities to arrest him.
“Imran Khan wanted us all to make sure that he is not arrested,” he added.
Dar further revealed that the incident which occurred outside the Judicial Complex in Islamabad when PTI workers confronted with the police authorities, took place due to the same mental conditioning.
Speaking about the PTI Long March in October 2022 which started from Lahore to Rawalpindi, Dar revealed that it was aimed at creating pressure on the military and remove General Syed Asim Munir from becoming the Chief of Army Staff (COAS).
“There may have been messaging from within the establishment circles to Imran Khan, suggesting that if he takes out a long march and brings out a large crowd, pressure could be exerted from within the army ranks to stop the appointment of General Asim Munir as COAS.
“The main purpose of the events of May 9 was also to exert pressure on the military and remove General Asim Munir from his position. Imran Khan himself is responsible for the situation of PTI today. Today, PTI is in a state of disintegration,” he added.
After the May 9 riots, Dar went into hiding as authorities raided his house and other suspected places to take him into custody.
He was later arrested from Karachi in a police raid on September 9.
Dar had remained in custody since and then re-emerged during the TV channel interview.
But after the interview, a statement was issued by Dar’s family who claimed that he was tortured and forced to speak against Khan at gunpoint.
“Usman Dar was brutally tortured after his arrest. We are political workers and should not be treated like militants,” said Umar Dar, his brother.
“Usman Dar may have left PTI and politics, but I have not. Usman Dar has been forced to speak against Imran Khan. But now, I will fight against you (Khawaja Asif–PMLN) in the political arena. I dare you to contest the elections against me and I will make an example of the Lion (PMLN’s election symbol),” said Usman Dar’s mother.
Usman Dar’s interview is being criticized and questioned as many are raising concerns over the way PTI leaders have been forced to detach themselves from Khan, condemn the riot and leave politics.
“It seemed scripted before when many PTI leaders were doing press conferences immediately after getting out of jails. And even today, the interview of Usman Dar seems scripted. This has raised questions over the integrity and credibility of the state institutions,” said senior journalist Azaz Syed.
The former Prime Minister has been declared as the prime accused in the riots case by the Federal Investigation Agency investigation report and a special court hearing is underway against him under the Army Act and the Official Secrets Act.
Dar has said that if he is needed to appear before the court and give a statement, then he is ready to do so.
Experts say that a plot is set to put Khan behind bars for years as there will be more such PTI leaders re-emerging with their versions of confessions against the party chief.