ISLAMABAD: Barrister Gohar Khan, a member of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) legal team, was left "speechless" after Chairman Imran Khan picked him for the top party position ahead of the intra-party elections.
The decision was announced by Barrister Ali Zafar in Islamabad, as he termed the development temporary before Khan could return to his position in the party once his disqualification in the wake of the Toshakhana case is overturned. until the case is solved Barrister Gohar has been "elected" party chairman on an “interim” basis, he added.
“The name given by PTI chairman is that of Barrister Gohar,” Zafar said.
The PTI will conduct its intra-party polls on Saturday.
"There is no concept of PTI without Imran Khan," Zafar said, speaking with journalists in the federal capital, flanked by the newly-chosen chairman of the Khan-led party.
“Khan sahab is our leader whether he is inside or outside the jail,” said Gohar, adding that he will take charge as chairman until Khan “returns respectfully”.
Imran Khan, the lawyer said, is the party’s beginning and end. “PTI is the same, our struggle is also the same as that of Khan sahib.”
Meanwhile, Barrister Zafar said the decision was made after Election Commission of Pakistan’s order regarding intra-party elections.
Gohar's name was revealed by PTI's lawyer Sher Afzal Marwat a day earlier. Since then, the PTI distanced itself from the announcement.
However, Marwat had repeatedly said that when Khan had picked Gohar as the chairman Zafar, Gohar and Niazi were with him.
Before the announcement, a rift was also becoming obvious within PTI after the differences pertaining to the intra-party elections left members divided, sources had told Geo News.
The matter became contentious following the announcement regarding the appointment of the party's chairman, the sources added.
According to the sources, the leaders and legal team of PTI's core committee are divided into two factions. The committee's senior leaders are of the opinion that the position of the chairman should be given to a political leader.
The party's legal team, as per the sources, believes that the PTI can be saved by appointing anyone to the chairman post temporarily.
A day earlier, Khan had “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.
Marwat said 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.
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.
Meanwhile, PTI Chairman Imran Khan's lawyer Latif Khosa denied all the reports of subtracting him from the party's political equation.
Speaking with journalists outside the Adiala jail in Rawalpindi, the lawyer said Imran Khan will remain PTI chairman.
"The current chairman of PTI will be the candidate in the intra-party election," he said.
The counsel said what Marwat or Ali Zafar said may have been misunderstood.
Khosa also mentioned that Khan has invited him to join PTI. "Talked to PTI chairman for an hour and a half, he spoke bluntly."
The lawyer, who is also a seasoned politician, said that Khan will challenge the government's notification in the £190 million case Al Qadir Trust case, which led to the PTI chief's disqualification.
He also spoke about Khan's imprisonment and jail trial in the cipher case which has the PTI chairman behind bars since August.
"We do not accept the jail trial, it will not fulfil the requirements of justice," Khosa said.
It should be noted that a special court, on Tuesday, announced that Khan and PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi's trial in the cipher case will be conducted in Adiala jail.
"The cipher trial will take place in jail in light of the security report by the superintendent of Adiala Jail," said special court Judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain, who has been conducting the hearings of the case.
The order said that the next hearing of the case would take place at Adiala jail. The court also stated that the proceedings can be attended by anyone who wishes to do so including the journalists.
The court also noted that five family members of the suspect would be allowed to attend the proceedings. Judge Zulqarnain adjourned the hearing till December 1.
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