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Pakistan: Major blow to Imran Khan as court upholds to bar PTI leader from contesting general elections

The appellate tribunals of the Lahore High Court (LHC) upheld the returning officers' (ROs) decision to reject the founder of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party's nomination papers for two National Assembly constituencies in the Punjab province of the country.

Edited By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 Islamabad Published on: January 10, 2024 16:06 IST
Pakistan former PM Imran Khan
Image Source : AP Pakistan former PM Imran Khan

Pakistan's jailed former prime minister Imran Khan on Wednesday failed to get any relief from the court to contest next month's general elections. The appellate tribunals of the Lahore High Court (LHC) upheld the returning officers' (ROs) decision to reject the founder of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party's nomination papers for two National Assembly constituencies in the Punjab province of the country.

Pakistan will go to polls on February 8.

Justice Tariq Nadeem and Justice Abul Aziz of the tribunal announced the verdict on Lahore's NA-122 and Mianwali NA-89 seats, respectively. In the 2018 polls, Khan had won both his hometown's seats.

Why court rejected Khan's plea

"Both judges rejected the appeals of Khan against the Returning Officer's decision observing that he (Khan) was convicted in the Toshakhana (national treasury gifts) case. His conviction is suspended but he is not acquitted in the case thereby he is not eligible to contest the February 8 polls," a court official told PTI.

On December 30, the Returning Officer rejected Khan and several other party stalwarts on what the PTI called "flimsy grounds."

Khan, 71, had contended before the tribunals that the conviction of the Toshakhana case has no link with his disqualification under Article 62 (1f) of the Constitution as 'not honest and righteous', therefore, his nomination papers cannot be rejected. Khan is likely to challenge the decision of the tribunal in the higher court.

PTI Chairman Advocate Gohar Khan said stopping Khan and other main PTI leaders from contesting polls is the worst kind of misuse of authority and abuse of process. "However, we will contest the elections come what may," he said.

May 9 violence 

Khan who has been in jail since August last year was arrested on Tuesday by Ra­w­a­lpindi police in at least a dozen cases on the May 9 violence, including the attack on the military's Gene­ral Headqua­rters (GHQ).

According to the PTI, the state is using every possible tactic to stop its candidates from contesting the polls across the country. Citing a case in point, it said on Tuesday, that PTI candidate Abdullah Mumtaz Kahloon was allegedly 'abducted' by the agencies' personnel from Islamabad International Airport after he arrived from abroad. The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has issued directions to the Federal Investigation Agency to trace him with the help of CCTV footage.

Pakistan court asks election body to re-allocate cricket 'bat' symbol to Imran Khan's party

Meanwhile, in a relief to Khan, a high court on Wednesday declared as unconstitutional the election commission's decision revoking the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party's cricket ‘bat’ electoral symbol and rejecting its intra-party polls.

The Peshawar High Court (PHC) also directed the electoral body to allocate the jailed premier's party its iconic ‘bat’ electoral symbol back and upload the party’s certificate of internal elections on its website, Dawn newspaper reported.

"The PTI is entitled to ‘bat’ and should be given the same as its electoral symbol,” the court ruled.

The judgement, which was reserved earlier in the day, was announced by a two-member bench comprising Justice Ejaz Anwar and Justice Syed Arshad Ali on a petition jointly filed by PTI leader Barrister Gohar Ali and six other leaders requesting the court to declare the ECP order as illegal and without jurisdiction.

On December 22, the Election Commission of Pakistan decided against letting PTI retain its electoral symbol for the February 8 election, saying that it had failed to hold intra-party polls under its prevailing Constitution and election laws.

(With inputs from agency)

Also Read: Pakistan ex-PM Imran Khan arrested in connection with army headquarters attack

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