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Pakistan: Who is Omar Ayub, picked by Imran Khan's PTI as PM candidate? 5 facts about him

PTI leader Asad Qaiser said Imran nominated Omar Ayub as the Prime Minister candidate and will reach out to other parties to support his candidature. Omar served in Imran Khan's Cabinet as a federal minister and has been a member of Nawaz Sharif's party and the ruling party under Pervez Musharraf.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Islamabad Updated on: February 15, 2024 17:35 IST
Who is Omar Ayub?
Image Source : OMAR AYUB (X) PTI secretary general Omar Ayub (in centre), nominated as the party's PM candidate.

Islamabad: Jailed former premier Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has nominated the party's secretary general and former federal minister Omar Ayub as its prime ministerial candidate. Omar will compete in a high-stakes contest with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz's (PML-N) candidate Shehbaz Sharif for the post as the country witnesses political turmoil amid a fractured mandate.

"Omar Ayub will be our candidate for the prime minister election, he has been nominated by Imran Khan", Asad Qaiser, a senior PTI leader, told journalists after meeting the former premier in Rawalpindi's Adiala Jail. Qaiser said PTI would reach out to other parties to discuss supporting Ayub's candidature.

After the February 8 polls produced a split mandate, there has been no government in place in the country for almost a week now. With PTI being barred from directly contesting the elections and its rivals agreeing on a coalition government, the party's prospects of forming the federal government are very narrow, but not impossible.

PTI-backed candidates sprung a major surprise, despite a full-fledged military-backed crackdown, by winning the highest number of seats, with 93 out of a total of 264 seats for which results were declared. Nawaz Sharif's PML-N was the largest party with 75 seats and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) won 54. However, several of its candidates have joined Nawaz Sharif's party. The elections have been marred with allegations of rigging and protests have taken place in several parts of the country.

Who is Omar Ayub?

  1. Omar is the grandson of Pakistan's first military dictator Ayub Khan who ruled Pakistan from 1958 to 1969. Ayub Khan seized the presidency in a military coup - the country's first - in 1958, toppling former PM Feroze Khan's administration, and was responsible for spearheading the war against India in 1965.
  2. Omar joined the Pakistan Muslim League (Q) along with his father Gohar Ayub Khan before the 2002 general elections. He contested in that year's polls and served as state minister for finance under Shaukat Aziz's administration and the presidency of Pervez Musharraf, taking credit for launching several projects related to natural gas, road infrastructure and electricity.
  3. Omar was defeated by PML-N's Sardar Mushtaq Khan in 2008, but returned to the National Assembly in 2014 on a PML-N ticket. However, he was unseated by the Supreme Court which declared elections in his constituency as null and void in 2015, according to Express Tribune.
  4. He joined the PTI in 2018 and was re-elected to the National Assembly in that year's elections, winning over 172,000 votes in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Haripur. He was inducted in Imran Khan's cabinet and was appointed as the Federal Minister for Power. After a couple of reshuffles, Omar became the Minister of Economic Affairs in Pakistan in 2021.
  5. Omar is currently in hiding after facing over 20 criminal charges following the May 9 riots, according to Dawn. He contested and won the Haripur seat (NA-18)in the election despite his absence from the campaign by securing 192,948 votes. 

What is PTI planning?

Imran's party earlier said it would ally with the Majlis Wahdat-i-Muslimeen (MWM) in the Centre and Punjab. PTI said it would form a coalition government with the Jamaat-i-Islami in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, but the JI later said it was not interested in working with the PTI in the province.

Qaiser said Imran had given him an “assignment” to engage with all political parties protesting the election results, specifically mentioning Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s JUI-F, the Awami National Party and Qaumi Wattan Party. “We want to form a strategy together because these were the worst elections in the history of Pakistan,” the PTI leader said. Qaiser stated that PTI-backed candidates who had won the polls would not resign in any condition and would sit in the assemblies. 

Qaiser further informed that Imran would give a date later today for a countrywide He further said that Imran would give a date later today for a countrywide protest campaign against alleged rigging in the Feb 8 polls. This comes after the main political parties in Pakistan, except Imran Khan's, agreed to try to form a coalition government. These parties include Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P).

The PML-N on Tuesday night nominated 72-year-old Shehbaz Sharif as the prime ministerial candidate instead of the party supremo and three-time former premier Nawaz Sharif. The 74-year-old veteran politician, who was seeking a record fourth term as prime minister, returned to Pakistan in October last year after ending a self-imposed exile in the UK.

Additionally, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz has been nominated for the post of Punjab provincial Chief Minister, who will become the first woman to serve in the post if elected. PML-N said Nawaz felt he could best support Shehbaz Sharif as prime minister and Maryam Nawaz as Punjab chief minister by helping them from behind and looking at party affairs.

(with agency inputs)

ALSO READ | Pakistan: Imran Khan's PTI announces Omar Ayub as Prime Ministerial candidate

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