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Pakistan: Imran Khan's PTI-backed candidates officially join Sunni Ittehad Council

PTI leaders Gohar Khan and Omar Ayub have deliberately not filed their affidavits to join the Sunni Ittehad Council as they plan to contest the party's internal elections. The Imran Khan-led party has rejected the coalition announcement as 'PDM 2.0' and vowed to form the government.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Islamabad Published on: February 22, 2024 13:08 IST
Pakistan, PTI, Imran Khan, Sunni Ittehad Council
Image Source : X PTI candidates protest against alleged rigging in Pakistan's elections

Islamabad: Almost all candidates of incarcerated former Prime Minister Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party have submitted their affidavits to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), formally joining the right-wing Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) in their bid to form the federal and some provincial governments. The party could not directly take part in the elections as their electoral symbol - a cricket bat - was denied.

As many as 89 candidates in the National Assembly, 85 members of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, 106 members of the Punjab Assembly and nine members of the Sindh Assembly submitted their affidavits on Wednesday, according to Dawn. The PTI had announced a "formal agreement" with SIC on Monday to receive its share of reserved seats for women and minorities.

Omar, Gohar did not file affidavits

Three party leaders, including Barrister Gohar Khan, Omar Ayub Khan - PTI's candidate for the prime minister's post - and Ali Amin Gandapur, did not submit affidavits, while the notification of another candidate was yet to be issued by the ECP. 

Omar and Gohar did not file their affidavits deliberately as they plan to contest PTI's intra-party elections. Gandapur did not file because he had been nominated as PTI's candidate for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's chief minister.

PTI's intra-party elections are reportedly planned to be held within a fortnight. Gohar has been nominated as the chairman, while Raoof Hassan will be the Chief Election Commissioner for PTI's intra-party polls, according to local media reports. Their last internal elections were rejected by the electoral watchdog amid a military-backed crackdown, causing them to lose their symbol and forcing party candidates to contest as independents.

A coalition government in making

In a surprise show of power, incarcerated former Prime Minister Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-backed candidates won the maximum seats in the National Assembly, although they could not form a government as the party was stripped of its electoral symbol. Independent candidates - a majority backed by 71-year-old Imran's PTI - won 93 seats in the National Assembly.

However, Pakistan is expected to witness the formation of its next coalition government as Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Bilawal Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) struck a power-sharing deal to form a coalition after weeks of negotiations.  The PML-N won 75 seats while the PPP came third with 54 seats. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P) has 17 seats and will support the two parties.

The coalition could keep their arch-rival Imran Khan out of power after the controversial elections marred by rigging allegations. The PTI has alleged that the  PML-N and PPP are going to form the government with a stolen mandate and the nation would not accept the "PDM 2.0". It also alleged the regime change conspiracy” was backed by the chief election commissioner in a mockery of the Constitution and the law.

A party spokesperson said a group “rejected by the nation” had gathered once again to stage a “drama” of PDM 2.0 in the country, which was unacceptable and intolerable, Dawn reported. He claimed that as per Form 45s, the citizens had given the PTI an overwhelming majority of 180 seats in the National Assembly.

“It is high time we learned a lesson from history and respected the public mandate, as Pakistan had to go through a tragedy like the fall of Dhaka as a result of daylight poll fraud,” the party’s spokesperson said.

'A new era': PML-N's Maryam Nawaz in Punjab province

PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif's daughter Maryam, who is the party's candidate for CM of Punjab province, said a a "new era" will begin for the province as per the traditions and examples laid down by her father and Shehbaz Sharif, who is the PM candidate, during their terms as CMs.

She said there is a "clear majority" of the PML-N in the province. If voted into power, Maryam will become the first woman to be elected as a chief minister in Pakistan’s seven-decade-plus history. She will take over the province with a population of more than 127 million people, more than half of Pakistan’s population.

“This was a tough election, I thank the people of Punjab for providing us with a clear majority. We will set records of service; I haven’t rested since the election results, all of us will have to work as a team,” she said, pledging to live up to people's expectations while fulfilling her duties.

On Tuesday, the coalition announced that PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif would be nominated for the Prime Ministerial office, while PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari would contest to become the next President. However, the PPP has declined to become part of Shehbaz Sharif's cabinet but has asked to get top constitutional offences, such as deputy NA speaker and Senate chairman.

ALSO READ | Pakistan: Imran Khan's PTI-backed candidates to join Sunni Ittehad Council, vows to form govt

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