ISLAMABAD: The senior leaders of ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Wednesday vowed to stand by Prime Minister Imran Khan after reports surfaced that a pro-Jahngir Tareen has been formed within the ruling party.

A day ago, Jahangir Khan Tareen, former secretary-general of the PTI, had hosted a dinner at his residence in honor of several lawmakers who have been supporting him as he fights several cases in the courts. It was reportedly decided at the event that the attending lawmakers would raise their voice for Tareen in the assemblies.

Soon after the ‘grouping’ was reported, trends started to appear on social media supporting the prime minister and his vision. The PTI loyalists and senior party leaders and ministers issued statements and tweeted after the development, saying they stand by the skipper.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who is believed to be the arch rival of JKT, said all members of the party were supposed to follow discipline and warned that violation of rules could affect their membership. “No member of the party can violate the rules on Vote of Confidence and Finance Bill,” Qureshi said in his statement on issues related to party discipline.

Qureshi noted that the prime minister, on demand by some party members, had given the responsibility of an inquiry into the cases against Jahangir Tareen to Barrister Ali Zafar, and that he will prepare a report on the matter.

Meanwhile, he said, there is no room in the party for people who do not repose confidence in PM Khan, the founding member of PTI. “These people should decide if they consider Imran Khan as their leader,” he added. Without Imran Khan and his voters, he added, these people would not have been able to reach the assemblies.

Meanwhile, Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry said that PM Khan is not only the prime minister but also the party chairperson. “The PTI government has completed two years and the remaining tenure will also be completed. The PTI will remain in government for the next five years. Legislation will not stopped – neither in Senate nor in the National Assembly,” he added.

On the other hand, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid responded to the controversy, saying that Tareen will vote for PM Khan in the upcoming budget. “Groupings in the party are a routine matter,” he added.

On Twitter, trends #IstandWithImranKhan and #BehindYouSkipper were on top and were also used by several party leaders.