Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Senior Vice-President Sher Afzal Marwat said late Tuesday — hours after Imran Khan decided against retaining the chairman's post due to legal hurdles as the party heads towards internal polls — that Barrister Gohar Khan will be the candidate for the top slot.
“Barrister Gohar will be the PTI's candidate for chairmanship. The PTI chairman [Imran] has said that Gohar will be his candidate for the post,” Marwat said during his conversation with a private news channel, as Imran remains behind bars in Rawalpindi’s Adiala jail and entangled in legal battles.
Although several party leaders had confirmed that, in a rather surprising development, Imran would not be contesting the intra-party elections, they had claimed that the final candidate would be announced later on.
This development will mark an end to Imran’s tenure at the key position since the party’s formation more than two decades back.
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.
The reason behind Imran’s nonparticipation is his disqualification 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”.
Despite Marwat and other leaders’ announcement, the PTI had claimed that there were no such plans for Imran to step down from his position.
The PTI, in a statement on X, strongly rebutted the “speculations” over the election of a new party chairman.
“Discussions are ongoing on all the important issues regarding the holding of intra-party elections,” it added.
This will be a huge development for the party as the country moves towards general elections, set to take place on February 8, 2024. It will be a challenge for the party to secure votes if Imran remains behind bars.
According to the PTI leader’s website, he is an advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and appears in all high courts as well.
He is a law graduate from Wolverhampton University, UK with LLM from Washington School of Law, USA. Gohar has been in active law practice with more than 50 reported judgments to his credit on subjects ranging from taxation, commercial, corporate, arbitration, banking, election, etc.
The PTI leader has civil and criminal trials experience, and even has the honour to appear before the Supreme Judicial Council, Field General Court Martial, and its Court of Appeal.
His clients include public and private companies and important persons, including Imran.
Gohar was a member of the Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarian and contested elections for the National Assembly in 2008, however, he lost. He then joined the PTI in July 2022.
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