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Monday February 26, 2024

In major blow, Imran Khan to lose PTI chairman post amid legal woes

Sher Afzal Marwat confirms development while PTI differs from its own leaders’ speculations

November 28, 2023
Former prime minister and PTI chief Imran Khan addresses long march participants via video link. — Instagram/@imrankhan.pti
Former prime minister and PTI chief Imran Khan addresses long march participants via video link. — Instagram/@imrankhan.pti

ISLAMABAD: In a major blow to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), its chairman Imran Khan has “decided against contesting the party chairman election” due to his disqualification in the Toshakhana case.

Speaking to Geo News, PTI Senior Vice-President Sher Afzal Marwat confirmed that Imran — the only prime minister to be voted out via no-confidence motion in April last year — would not partake in the intra-party polls.

The PTI’s Core Committee on Monday gave formal approval to hold the intra-party polls within the time frame of 20 days given by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). If the party does not follow the orders, it will lose its bat symbol.

Although the elections are set to be held, there is no confirmation about the top slot, Barrister Gohar Khan told Geo News that the decision would be made on Friday — three days from now.

The reason behind Imran’s nonparticipation is that he has been disqualified as a parliamentarian for five years in the Toshakhana case since he was found to be involved in “corrupt practices by hiding the benefits he accrued from the national exchequer wilfully and intentionally”.

PTI spokesperson Shoaib Shaheen also told Geo News that the party hasn’t reached a decision about who should replace Imran as the chairman and that a name was expected to be finalised after a party delegation meets the ex-premier incarcerated in Adiala jail.

Meanwhile, sources revealed to Geo News that the PTI chief would not be contending the election of the party chairman and someone else from the party would be nominated for the top slot.

They added that Imran had delivered a message to the party’s core committee from prison in this regard.

As per the sources, the intra-party elections will be held for posts of party chairman, vice-chairman, and other organisational positions.

The insiders also said the PTI chief would himself approve all decisions related to the party’s organisational matters including giving the go-head to the name of a new chairman and distribution of party tickets.

‘PTI denies party leaders' statement’

Reacting to the reports, the PTI strongly rebutted the “speculations” over the election of a new party chairman.

In a statement issued on its official X handle, the Imran Khan-led party also rejected the senior leaders' statement related to the election of the new party chief.

“Discussions are ongoing on all the important issues regarding the holding of intra-party elections,” it added.

The PTI leaders appeared to be divided on the matter of the party chairman election.

Barrister Umair Niaz, PTI chief’s focal person on legal affairs, told Geo News that the matter of electing a new party chairman hinges on the Toshakhana verdict that disqualified the party chairman for five years and the matter is currently pending before the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

He also said Imran would remain the party head if the verdict is announced in his favour and added that the name of the new party chairman will be announced after the announcement of the verdict.

However, PTI Senior Vice President Marwat told the media outside Adiala jail that he met the incarcerated leader to discuss the matter of electing a new party chairman.

He said he informed the PTI chief that the disqualification sword is hanging and the reasons for removing him from the post of party chairman are being discussed by the ECP.

“Imran Khan will not be a candidate for the party chief due to legal hurdles and consensus has evolved over the intra-party polls,” he added.

ECP verdict

Last week, the ECP ruled that the PTI intra-party polls were not transparent, ordering the former ruling party to hold new elections if it wishes to retain its “bat” symbol.

The PTI was by the commission to hold fresh elections within 20 days in a reserved verdict announced on November 23.

In the verdict, the ECP stated that the PTI failed to hold free and fair intra-party elections, adding that the polls were objectionable and controversial.

“PTI’s intra-party elections cannot be accepted,” stated the verdict, directing it to hold polls and submit the record within seven days.

“If PTI fails to hold elections within 20 days then it will have to face severe consequences. In case of failure to hold [intra-party] elections, the [PTI] will not be eligible to secure an election symbol,” said the verdict.

The ECP had issued notices to the PTI for not holding intra-party polls on August 2 and reserved its verdict on the matter on September 13.