Imran won’t be vying for PTI chairmanship, nominates Gohar

Our Correspondent
Thursday, Nov 30, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has decided not to contest for the party’s top slot and nominated Barrister Gohar Ali Khan, a member of his legal team, for the slot of party chairman in a temporary arrangement.

The move is aimed at “pre-empting any illegal or unconstitutional steps” by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to prevent the party from getting bat as its poll symbol or cancel the nominations of its candidates.

Flanked by Barrister Gohar Khan and PTI Central Information Secretary Raoof Hasan here, the party’s senior leader Senator Barrister Ali Zafar announced this during a news conference on Wednesday, saying Chairman Imran Khan will not be contesting the intra-party polls scheduled for December 2 (Saturday) due to his legal issues.

Ali Zafar quoted the PTI chairman as saying, “The public is with us. We will win the elections when they are held. I want to take part in the general elections. Intra-party polls hold no meaning for me. I want that the Toshkahana case is decided as soon as possible. When it is decided, I will contest intra-party polls as chairman.”

He said the PTI chairman had directed the party to hold intra-party polls and the decision was placed before the senior leadership, and they approved it.

Therefore, he said, Gohar had been nominated for the slot of party chairman under a temporary arrangement by Imran Khan. However, he declared that the party would challenge the ECP decision, asking for holding intra-party polls within 20 days. He claimed the very decision for holding the polls within 20 days was illegal and unconstitutional.

The PTI senior leader said that Barrister Gohar was an appropriate pick for the caretaker chairmanship. With his nomination, they would realise that this was not a minus-one formula because he was the PTI chairman’s own nominee and was appropriate for the temporary arrangement they were implementing.

Barrister Ali Zafar said the chairmanship was temporary, as Imran would return as chairman of the party once his disqualification in the wake of Toshakhana case was overturned. “There is no concept of PTI without Imran Khan.”

The PTI senator made it clear: “PTI is Imran Khan and Imran Khan is PTI. The party is nothing without him. It doesn’t matter if you are chairman on paper. The leader and perpetual leader is Imran Khan.”

He said the party had to overcome legal hurdles as well as to implement the ECP’s illegal and unconstitutional order on holding intra-party polls, which is why it was taking this step.

He pointed out the PTI chairman had been convicted in the Toshakhana case, though the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had suspended his three-year sentence, final decision had not yet been made, insisting that a person could not be disqualified for failing to declare Toshakhana gifts. “We took the decision to pre-empt any illegal or unconstitutional steps by ECP to deprive the party of its electoral symbol bat or cancel the nominations of its candidates,” he contended.

He noted that all these matters were discussed with the PTI chairman in the presence of other lawyers, adding that Imran Khan did not want to give the ECP any excuse for not giving the party the bat symbol in the upcoming general elections.

However, Zafar said the question then arose about the candidates for the intra-party polls and nominee for the chairman, and names of several prominent personalities were discussed but all of them had been appointed to permanent positions within the party.

“It would not be appropriate to give them a temporary position. That is why we need someone who is not controversial and can play a role in this caretaker mode; this is a temporary arrangement,” he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Barrister Gohar said he was speechless and did not have the words to thank his leader Imran Khan and added Imran was the leader of PTI whether he was in jail or whether he was free.