After mysteriously disappearing for a month, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, the chief of Awami Muslim League (AML) and ally of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), reemerged into the public eye. In a surprising turn of events, Rashid sought compassion for those involved in the unsettling events of May 9, drawing attention to his unexpected sabbatical.
His reappearance came right after the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) directive to the police, setting a deadline of October 26 to ascertain the senior politician’s location, following an unexplained absence since his arrest.
The Concept of ‘Chilla’: A Period of Reflection
Rashid, who was taken into custody in Rawalpindi on September 17, disclosed in an interview that he spent the past 40 days in ‘chilla,’ a term suggesting a period of spiritual retreat or seclusion. He reflected on various matters during this time, emphasizing his uninterrupted support for the army and advising PTI Chairman Imran Khan to maintain positive relations with military institutions.
Discussing the turmoil of May 9, Rashid clarified his absence from the country at the time, distancing himself from the subsequent violence. His stance on institutional respect was clear, urging politicians to refrain from pointing fingers at army officials and underscoring the necessity for unity between governing bodies for a functional state.
The political veteran highlighted his desire to be involved in discussions with the army, a proposal the former prime minister seemingly declined. He critiqued the PTI’s aggressive approach towards the establishment, specifically identifying the party’s tussle with the Chief of Army Staff, General Asim Munir, as a grave error.
Further into the conversation, Rashid addressed issues surrounding his social media presence. He debunked claims of personally managing his Twitter account, now rebranded as ‘X,’ though he owned up to the sentiments expressed in the tweets. Despite the controversies and digital uproar, he affirmed his intention to participate in upcoming elections, albeit with an air of uncertainty regarding potential support.