The PTI on Tuesday denied its own Senior Vice President Sher Afzal Khan Marwat’s claim that party chief Imran Khan, who is currently incarcerated at Adiala jail, would not contest the upcoming intra-party polls for the slot of party chairman — a position he has long held.

The party did not directly name Marwat but it was clear that the clarification through its official social media account was addressing remarks made earlier in the day by Marwat, who had stated that Imran decided to sit out party polls due to legal prohibitions and his disqualification in the Toshakhana case.

Marwat had made the remarks while speaking to PTI’s social media representatives outside Adiala jail.

“Khan sahib himself has decided that he will not contest the polls for the office of PTI chairman,” he had said, adding that this decision was taken with consensus. Marwat said the decision would be reversed as soon as the disqualification was set aside.

However, hours later, the PTI issued a statement on social media platform X stating that it “strongly denies” speculation in the media on the issue. It also denied the claims by a “senior party leader” about Imran not running for party chairman in intra-party elections.

“Discussions are ongoing on all the important issues regarding the holding of intra-party elections,” the party said. It said that no decision was taken as yet regarding withdrawing Imran from the election or nominating another leader in his place.

The party said that as soon as the leadership reached a conclusion on holding intra-party elections, the date and the selection of candidates, the details would be released to the media.

Meanwhile, Marwat stuck by his statement despite the party’s denial. In response to the statement issued by the PTI, Marwat said that he had “examined the paradox”.

“Whatever I have said in my media talk about the intra-party election is correct. The decisions were taken by the PTI chairman in the presence of Senator Ali Zafar, Barrister Gohar Umair Niazi and myself,” he said.

“I fail to understand who is behind the contradiction and why the misleading statement was issued. The media are advised to verify my statement with the above persons if you don’t mind,” he added.

Separately, PTI Senator Ali Zafar said while talking on Geo News show ‘Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Sath’ that there was no confusion in the party, adding that he met Imran today.

Zafar said Imran had tasked him to hold consultations and then meet the PTI chief to give his opinion on the situation so the former premier could make his decision.

“Two to three decisions were made together with him. Firstly, he asked what is the legal status of the ECP’s order to hold intra-party elections so I told him that it is illegal and we should appeal so the decision was made to appeal it.”

Secondly, Zafar said Imran asked whether the party should go ahead with elections despite appealing the ECP order to which the senator said they should be held.

“I sense the perception and the party leadership does too that the ECP is somehow trying to not give the PTI the symbol of the bat.”

Zafar said Imran supported his opinion to hold elections and agreed to it.

“Discussion was also had on whether Imran Khan should contest the elections or should we suspend the decisions against us first.”

He said finally a decision was reached that if need be, if there was any concern arose that the ECP would raise an objection if Imran contested the elections, “then it is better than that that we at the moment hold elections in which Imran Khan doesn’t contest and we nominate someone else [for party chairman].”

Zafar pointed out that a final decision remained to be taken on the above matter after considering all legal aspects, adding that he would announce the “exact decision” of whether Imran would contest the intra-party elections or not tomorrow.

“The main purpose of this election if Imran Khan does not contest will be that because there are false cases against him and the ECP is somehow trying to disqualify him, reject the elections and not give the symbol, then it is better in our view to avoid all of that.

“If he (Imran) nominates someone else and a final decision is taken then elections will be held,” Zafar said.

The senator added that two to four names were considered for the role and one was selected by Imran.

“I cannot disclose it because it was our decision to first have legal consultation, if Imran Khan won’t contest then we will announce the name tomorrow.”

He said Marwat was correct in what he was saying and was present in the meeting with Imran. However, he said the PTI statement was also correct since “the final decision will be announced tomorrow.”

Zafar also said all of the above was a “temporary phase” and Imran would continue to be the party supremo whether he was nominated or called the chairman or not.

“He is the PTI and its head and will continue overseeing it. The PTI is nothing without him and the whole nation knows this so the constitutional name doesn’t affect the [general] election campaign or the PTI.”

Zafar said the above was merely a “Plan D” which was prepared for quite some time and it only needed to be announced. He said party elections would be held either on Saturday or Sunday

Last week, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had ordered the PTI to hold intra-party elections within 20 days to retain the bat as its poll symbol.

The party had subsequently moved the Sindh High Court against the ECP’s directive, alleging that the move was part of an effort to keep the party away from elections.

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