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Pakistan: Imran Khan's PTI to hold fresh intra-party elections on March 3

This comes as almost all PTI-backed independent candidates joined the right-wing Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) on Wednesday. PTI's previous intra-party elections were declared "unconstitutional" by the electoral watchdog and Pakistan's Supreme Court.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Islamabad Published on: February 22, 2024 16:22 IST
Pakistan, Imran Khan, PTI intra party elections
Image Source : AP Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has been reeling under a military-backed crackdown.

Islamabad: Former Prime Minister Imran Khan's beleaguered Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) will hold fresh internal elections on March 3, almost a month after the general elections earlier this month. Their previous intra-party polls were rejected by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and upheld by the Supreme Court that saw the party stripped of its electoral symbol and unable to directly participate in national elections.

In its detailed verdict, the apex court had ruled that a political party must never be deprived of its election symbol for some minor violation, but forsaking intra-party elections was a major violation of law and the Constitution, Dawn reported. The verdict forced hundreds of PTI candidates to contest as independents with different electoral symbols and deprived the party of reserved seats.

The PTI had earlier decided to hold the internal elections on February 5 but later changed its mind and postponed them until after the Feb 8 general elections over the “unfortunate security situation created by the administration” and concerns expressed by members. The party's Federal Chief Election Commission on Thursday released its schedule for the intra-party elections which will now be held on March 3.

As per the schedule, the party will issue its notice inviting nomination papers for PTI members on Feb 22. Party members will be able to file their nomination papers with the returning officers (RO) between 10 am to 3 pm on Feb 23 and 24. The schedule said election results will be declared by 8 pm on the same day while a notification regarding the same will be issued on March 4.

PTI-backed candidates join Sunni Ittehad Council

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.

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. 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.

Pakistan's next coalition government

This comes as 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) after the duo struck a power-sharing deal. This occurred despite PTI-backed candidates winning the most seats in the National Assembly.

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.

However, the party's quest for reserved seats isn't likely to go smoothly. According to Advocate Hafiz Ahsaan Ahmad Khokhar the allocation and distribution of reserved seats for women and non-Muslims is only for those political parties which have a presence in the assembly through their own election symbol after the general election.

ALSO READ | Pakistan Supreme Court rejects plea seeking nullification of elections after petitioner absent again

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