Awami Muslim League (AML) leader and PTI ally, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, has made a public appearance after over a month of being detained, explaining that he was on a spiritual pilgrimage.
In an interview with Samaa TV on Friday, Sheikh Rashid shared his insights, marking his first appearance since plainclothes personnel arrested him at his Rawalpindi residence on September 17.
His detention had led to widespread violent protests across the country on May 9, following the arrest of PTI chief Imran Khan. The protests resulted in damage to military installations and state properties, leading to condemnation from the military. Since then, several PTI leaders have distanced themselves from the party, including Farrukh Habib and Usman Dar.
Like other PTI leaders who departed from the party or resigned, Sheikh Rashid expressed his disapproval of the events on May 9, labeling them as “highly condemnable.” During the interview, he mentioned that he had embarked on a “40-day pilgrimage (chilla),” during which he studied the Holy Quran in detail and engaged in introspection.
He explained, “This was a challenging period, but no one harmed me; instead, they cooperated with me.” However, he did not provide further details.
When asked about his motivation for the interview, Sheikh Rashid noted that it had become customary. Reflecting on the May 9 incident, he suggested that the events of that day should be condemned during Friday sermons. He also clarified that he was abroad at the time and had condemned the incident a day later, though it went unnoticed.
Regarding why Imran Khan aimed to prevent Gen Asim Munir from becoming the army chief, Sheikh Rashid acknowledged it as a “mistake” without elaboration. He emphasized that such matters should remain within the domain of the military.
Sheikh Rashid highlighted that the decisions made by the “chief” had far-reaching consequences, revealing that he had prayed for the strength to reach out to Asim Munir and ask for forgiveness.
He stressed that politicians should refrain from naming any army officer. In response to a question, he suggested that the torching of the corps commander’s residence in Lahore might have been part of a larger plan and expressed his desire to seek forgiveness, particularly for “common people.”
Sheikh Rashid encouraged the army to “forgive all those who were involved in the events” and recalled that he had always advised Imran Khan to maintain good relations with the army.
When asked if PTI was now his adversary, Sheikh Rashid responded negatively, stating that he had only one seat, and it wouldn’t make a difference if they were to take it