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Mass Exodus: Exploring the Reasons Behind Leaders Quitting Imran Khan’s Party in Pakistan

The Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, led by former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, has been hit hard by a wave of defections. Over two dozen leaders have abandoned the party, citing a variety of reasons, following Khan’s controversial arrest and the subsequent violence. The PTI attributes this exodus to the ongoing government crackdown. The departure of prominent figures, including Shireen Mazari, a former human rights minister, has dealt a significant blow to Khan’s party. As the PTI grapples with internal challenges, Khan himself faces numerous legal cases and seeks to avoid further arrests. This article will delve into the factors driving these high-profile departures and the potential impact on the party’s future.

Coercion and Forced Divorces:

Imran Khan took to social media to express his perspective on the mass resignations, claiming that forced divorces, rather than voluntary departures, were taking place within the PTI. The exact nature of the coercion remains unclear, as Khan did not explicitly identify the responsible parties. However, he stated that political parties cannot be dismantled through such tactics, suggesting external interference.

Opportunistic Departures and Political Logic:

Experts assert that political careers in Pakistan often revolve around opportunism rather than ideology. Sameen Mohsin Ali, a lecturer at the University of Birmingham, explains that politicians’ decisions to stay or leave a party are primarily influenced by political calculations and the dynamics within their constituencies. Politicians tend to align themselves with the party that offers the best chances of securing national or provincial power. Consequently, defections occur when individuals perceive greater prospects for their political careers elsewhere.

Blaming the Establishment:

The oversized role of the Pakistani military in domestic politics has long been a significant factor in party defections. Referred to as the “establishment,” the military has directly ruled the country for nearly three decades. While it is difficult to ascertain the establishment’s involvement in these recent departures, political analyst Benazir Shah suggests that the establishment may be deciding which parties can contest elections, thus impacting the PTI’s political landscape.

Impact on Future Elections:

While the PTI has faced previous challenges, the consequences of these defections on the party’s future remain uncertain. Analysts highlight the resilience of political parties like the PPP and the PMLN, which endured attempts by the establishment to weaken or dismantle them. The loyalty of their party bases, willing to endure legal battles and imprisonment, played a crucial role in preserving their strength. However, Asma Faiz, an associate professor of political science, expresses skepticism regarding the PTI’s performance in future elections. Strong candidates with their own voter base are essential for Khan’s party to maintain its political momentum.


The recent exodus of leaders from Imran Khan’s PTI party has dealt a significant blow to its stability and future prospects. The reasons behind these departures range from allegations of coercion to opportunistic political calculations. The influence of the establishment, coupled with the potential impact on future elections, adds further complexity to the situation. As Khan continues his fight against legal challenges, the PTI faces the daunting task of rebuilding and ensuring a strong candidate base to retain its popularity and influence in Pakistani politics. Only time will tell how these defections ultimately shape the trajectory of the PTI and its leadership under Imran Khan.


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