Gohar replaces Imran as PTI chief

ISLAMABAD  -  Barrister Gohar Ali Khan on Saturday replaced incarcerated ex-premier Imran Khan as the chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in a crucial but controversial intra-party polls whose fate will be decided by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and higher courts.

Barrister Gohar was elected PTI chairman unopposed in the contest held in Peshawar on the directions of the electoral watchdog. The entire panel of new PTI chief was elected unopposed as no one filed nomination papers against them, according to a statement issued by the party’s Chief Election Commissioner Niazullah Niazi. Omer Ayub Khan was elected as the party’s secretary-general. Similarly, Dr Yasmin Rashid was elected as the party president of Punjab, Haleem Adil Sheikh of Sindh, Ali Amin Gandapur of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Munir Ahmed Baloch as the party president of Balochistan.

Earlier this week, Barrister Gohar was nominated by ex-PTI chief Imran Khan for the top slot as a “stopgap arrangement” after his party announced that the founding chairman would not be participating in the contest scheduled for December 2 due to his legal problems.

On November 23, the ECP had annulled the PTI’s intra-party polls held in June last year, terming it “highly objectionable”. The electoral body ordered the party of former prime minister Imran Khan to hold intra-party elections within 20 days to retain the bat as its poll symbol.

Speaking in Peshawar after his election as chairman, Gohar said he would continue with this responsibility as Imran’s representative.

He said that Pakistan’s around 175 political parties had been providing details of their intra-party polls to the ECP since 1960. “However, none of these polls have been scrutinized except that of PTI.” Gohar said that the people of Pakistan would end this oppression and PTI would defeat its opponents in the upcoming election.

Later in the day, the newly elected chairman visited the party’s Central Secretariat in Islamabad. PTI Information Secretary Raoof Hassan welcomed the party chief upon his arrival at the Secretariat and expressed best wishes for him. PTI Chief Election Commissioner Niazi was also present on the occasion.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and PTI Parliamentarian separately rejected the intra-party polls of PTI by questioning its transparency and credibility. PML-N termed the intra-party polls as a “selection, not an election”, saying all the process was completed within 15 minutes. Speaking at a news conference in Rawalpindi, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said that the intra-party elections were done secretly. “How all the candidates were elected unopposed.”

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