ISLAMABAD -  After years of speculations, Babar Awan - former top lieutenant of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari – is set to join the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) today (Friday), political sources said.

While Awan himself chose to stay away from the media before his official announcement, the PTI chief confirmed his induction at an iftar-dinner hosted by him here on Thursday.

The PTI chief is now invited as the chief guest at an iftar- dinner to be hosted by Awan today in the federal capital.

“Yes he [Babar Awan] is coming [joining the PTI],” Khan told journalists.

Former ministers Firdous Ashiq Awan and Nazar Mohammed Gondal already quit the PPP to join the PTI in recent weeks, while Nawabzada Ghzanfar Gul is considering joining the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

The PPP, after the 2013 drubbing, was hoping to improve standing in Punjab but is finding it hard to achieve the goal.

Sources close to Babar Awan told The Nation that he would resign from the Senate to start his new political journey.

He was elected as senator on a PPP ticket in 2012.

During the PPP government, 2008-2013, he was appointed as Minister of Law and Justice in the cabinet of Yousuf Raza Gillani.

In a 2011 cabinet reshuffle, he was removed in favour of Farooq Naek.

Between 2008 and 2013, Awan was considered the right-hand man of then-President Asif Ali Zardari.

He was asked to resign in 2011 to plea in the Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto murder case but later he developed differences with Zardari.

In May 2012, he was stripped of all his party posts by the PPP.

Awan met Imran Khan in 2013 and was expected to join the PTI soon afterwards but he delayed it for years.

There were claims that Babar Awan’s PhD degree was awarded by Monticello University based in Hawaii, United States, in 1998.

The National Accountability Bureau also summoned Awan in 2009 after he was accused of getting bribes worth of Rs30 million from the owners of Haris Steel Mill in order to get a favourable verdict from the court.

The PPP dissident said he had not taken Rs30 million and that whatever money he took was his professional fee.

Later, Sheikh Afzal the owner of Haris Steel Mill stated that he had been pressured by the Punjab government led by the PML-N to issue a statement against Awan.

The charges were later dropped against Awan.

In December 2011, Awan criticised a Supreme Court judge and subsequently his licence to practice law was suspended.

Earlier, Zardari told his party to stop worrying about the ‘turncoats’ and let them leave the PPP as part of a ‘cleansing’ process.

Zardari believes “the defections will cleanse the party and will not cost the party in Punjab.”

During Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s time, Punjab was a stronghold of the PPP but the support slowly declined.

The ruling PML-N has been firmly in control in the province for several years.

The province, with a bigger population than all the other provinces combined, is effectively the “king-maker” with scores of the National Assembly seats on offer.

In the 2013 polls the PML-N hardly performed in other provinces but swept Punjab to form the government in the centre.

PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has appointed a new team in the province, dividing it into two parts – the south and central Punjab –to realise his dream of doing better in the populous unit.

But before Bilawal could launch his campaign, the dissidents have started to jump the ship.

In 2013, the PPP won only eight seats in the Punjab Assembly, prompting the commentators to reduce it to a “pressure group” instead of a national party.

PPP leaders claim all the defectors – Nazar Gondal, Ghazanafar Gul and Firdous Ashiq Awan and now Babar Awan – were least expected to remain in the party due to their long pending reservations.

“For us these people had left the PPP several years ago. We are not surprised,” a senior PPP leader said.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, the PPP condemned the ugly courtroom spectacle in Lahore the other day in which the legal team from Asma Jehangir’s chamber and its female client were subjected to vitriolic invectives and physical assault by some lawyers denying their basic right to be heard freely in a court of law.

“This most sad and deplorable incident has strengthened the perception that lawyers community is increasingly resorting to a behaviour inside the courtroom that is against their duty to uphold the rule of law-particularly in those criminal cases in which members of the bar themselves are implicated,” PPP leader Senator Farhatullah Babar said in a statement.

He added: “It is a sad thought that while the nation yearns for reforms in criminal justice system some lawyers are driven by an urge to resort to physical violence in courtrooms and yet get away with it.”

Farhatullah said that the impunity with which lawyers resorted to the kind of behaviour was a shocking indictment of all concerned.

“It is the responsibility of everyone, more so of the bars, to look into it and find a remedy before it is too late,” he said.

The incident in the Lahore High Court (LHC) marked by the shouting of obscenities at Asma Jehangir and the women complainant also highlights the misogyny that is still at work even among highly educated and supposedly law-abiding community of lawyers.

“It has brought to the fore how public spaces are increasingly becoming unsafe for the women. The message of Lahore incident is that women of Pakistan-whether as lawyers or as litigants, unsafe and besieged even in courtrooms, should abandon the thought of securing justice,” Senator Farhatullah said.

He said this was an ominous message that should be a cause of concern for all bar councils in the country that were supposed to regulate the profession.