LAHORE: In an apparent bid to avert possible disqualification in the Tyrian White case, PTI Chairman Imran Khan has withdrawn his candidature for by-poll for a National Assembly constituency.

The by-election on the NA-193, Rajanpur constituency, will be held on Feb 26 for which the PTI had nominated Mr Khan as candidate.

The move came after Mr Khan’s plea in the Tyrian White case, pending before the Islamabad High Court.

Mr Khan, who was a respondent in the case, took the plea that he was no more a public office-holder and thus unanswerable to the court for allegedly concealing facts about ‘his daughter’.

Party believes candidature would hurt his stance in Tyrian White case

A PTI official told Dawn the party feared that being a candidate for the seat would damage Mr Khan’s stance in the case. Therefore, it decided to withdraw his candidature.

However, PTI district president Abdur Razzaq said Mr Khan withdrew fearing disqualification in the foreign funding case.

After the withdrawal, the PTI nominated Mohsin Leghari as its candidate for the by-election.

Since being ousted through a vote of no-confidence in the National Assembly in April 2022, Mr Khan has been the PTI’s sole candidate for by-election on every seat. He is also the party’s candidate for the upcoming by-polls on 33 NA seats that had fallen vacant after the resignations of PTI lawmakers were accepted.

The PTI official did not respond when asked if a similar decision would be made for upcoming by-elections as well.

The by-elections are slated for March 16.

The candidates

Mr Leghari is the nephew and political heir of the late Jaffer Leghari. He also served as finance minister in the PTI’s Punjab government which now stood dissolved. Earlier, he, along with former MNA Dr Meena Jaffer Leghari, Nasrullah Dareshak and other leaders conducted the election campaign on behalf of Mr Khan.

He told Dawn that party workers were enthusiastically taking part in the campaign despite the withdrawal of the PTI chairman.

Mr Leghari will be up against PML-N’s Ammar Awais Leghari — grandson of former president Farooq Leghari — and PPP’s Akhtar Hassan Gorchani, a tribal elder and former Intelligence Bureau chief.

The PML-N candidate’s father, Awais Leghari, claimed Mr Khan retired due to PML-N’s robust campaign. “He decided to sacrifice some other PTI leader in his place and save himself from defeat.”

PTI MNAs move LHC

Separately, 43 former lawmakers belonging to the PTI have moved the Lahore High Court (LHC) against the NA speaker’s decision to accept their resignations.

The MNA filed a joint petition through Barrister Syed Ali Zafar urging the court to set aside the speaker’s decision and subsequent action of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to de-notify them.

The court will take up the matter on Friday (today).

The lawmakers, including Riaz Fatyana, stated they requested the speaker not to de-notify them as they had withdrawn resignations. Still, the speaker went ahead and accepted their resignations ‘without following the due process’.

The petition contended that “en masse” resignations cannot be treated as resignations as they were not voluntary but based on political considerations to force early elections.

This aspect was never denied by the speaker and all petitioners were asked to return to parliament, the petition said.

But when the petitioners opted to return to the assembly and withdraw their resignations, the speaker “unlawfully” accepted their resignations on political grounds.

The petitioner alleged that the speaker and the ECP never followed the law, but instead acted on dictation from high-ups.

The speaker did not personally invite the lawmakers to verify their resignations before accepting them, the petition added.

Wajih Sheikh and Tariq Saeed Birmani in Dera Ghazi Khan also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, February 3rd, 2023

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