PESHAWAR: Barrister Gohar Ali Khan Saturday was elected unopposed as the new chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) after its intra-party elections were held today.
Former prime minister Imran Khan had nominated Gohar Khan to succeed him as he was unable to contest polls due to his disqualification in the Toshakhana case.
Omar Ayub Khan was also chosen as the party’s central general secretary unopposed, party’s Chief Election Commissioner Niazullah Niazi said in Peshawar while announcing the results.
He shared that Ali Amin Gandapur and Dr Yasmin Rashid have been chosen as the party’s provincial presidents in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab, respectively.
PTI intra-party elections were held in line with the Election Commission of Pakistan's (ECP) orders to secure its election symbol “bat” for the general elections slated to take place in February next year.
Speaking with journalists in Peshawar, Barrister Gohar said he will take on the responsibilities of the chairman as Imran Khan's representative.
"We will take the country forward but as long as I am here, I will (act as) Imran Khan's representative who is in jail because of his principled struggle. PTI will not fight anyone," he said.
He lamented that none of the political parties "faced this sort of elections" like PTI did, adding that the court did not look into other parties' receiving foreign funding.
The newly-elected chairman complained that the party leadership faced many cases and could not get the relief it wanted from the courts.
"Till now, many of the party leaders are underground or in jails," he added.
PTI intra-party polls hold immense importance in the country's current political climate as the party's Chairman Imran Khan, for the first time since PTI's inception, decided to hand over the chairmanship to Barrister Gohar, who will be holding the party reigns until the Khan's release from jail.
Earlier this week, PTI member and senior lawyer Barrister Ali Zafar announced Gohar's name as the party's chair, adding that his position is temporary, as Khan would return as chairman once his disqualification in the wake of the Toshakhana case is overturned.
Barrister Gohar’s nomination as party chair became a controversial subject within the PTI when his name was revealed by PTI's lawyer Sher Afzal Marwat earlier this week.
The central polling centre was set up in Peshawar's Rano Garhi near the Motorway Toll Plaza where its Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Presiding Officer Ali Zaman and CEC were present.
Zaman told Geo News that the number of registered voters for the polls was more than 20 million. "The vote can be cast through an online app and ballot paper at the election centre in Peshawar," he said.
He earlier said all candidates in the polls would be elected unopposed. “If there are no objections, all the candidates will be elected uncontested."
Speaking with Geo News regarding the intra-party polls, Niazi said PTI is the only party with a democratic system.
He said the ECP gave PTI 20 days to hold elections and the party conducted polls according to the Constitution.
Niazi said he received a single panel from all provinces. “Munir Ahmed Baloch’s panel was elected unopposed from Balochistan. Haleem Adil Shaikh was elected unopposed as PTI president from Sindh.”
Meanwhile, PTI founding leader Akbar S Babar told Geo News that he will move the ECP, challenging the intra-party elections.
“In view of irregularities in the PTI intra-party elections, a petition will be submitted to the Election Commission,” he said.
The politician added that he and other founding leaders are part of the party following the high court’s decision.
Babar said he will address an important presser regarding the intra-party elections this evening. “I will expose the irregularities before the nation.”
However, the PTI election commissioner denied the allegations and said neither Babar contacted him nor his team.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency President Ahmad Bilal Mehboob said the PTI intra-party elections were not “conducted well”.
“Hasty election is not favourable for PTI. I think the PTI intra-party elections are controversial,” he said.
The analyst added that while political parties talk about free and fair elections in the country, there is no transparency in their intra-party polls.
He lamented that no voter list was given by the PTI and that Akbar S Babar should have been given a full chance to compete.
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