Gohar Ali Khan elected unopposed as new PTI chairman in intra-party polls

Published December 2, 2023
Barrister Gohar Ali Khan speaking in Peshawar after his election as PTI chairman on Saturday. — YouTube screengrab
Barrister Gohar Ali Khan speaking in Peshawar after his election as PTI chairman on Saturday. — YouTube screengrab

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) on Saturday elected Barrister Gohar Ali Khan as the new chairman in the intra-party elections held on the directives of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

Gohar won the chairman’s position unopposed.

Barrister Gohar, who was nominated by ex-PTI chief Imran Khan for the top slot a couple of days ago, submitted his nomination papers for the office of the party’s chairman.

Speaking in Peshawar after his election as chairman, Gohar said he will keep fulfilling this responsibility as Imran’s representative.

He said that Pakistan has 175 political parties, all of which have been providing details of their intra-party polls to the ECP since 1960. “However, none of these polls have been scrutinised as closely as those of the PTI.”

“People are seeing this and will block the oppression,” he said. “We have to take the country forward.”

He further added that PTI’s purpose is to struggle, and that Imran is in jail because of his efforts.

“When elections take place, we will defeat everyone,” Gohar said.

Omer Ayub Khan was elected as the party secretary-general — also unopposed. Provincially, Munir Ahmed Baloch was elected as the party president of Balochistan; Haleem Adil Sheikh of Sindh; Ali Amin Gandapur of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Dr Yasmin Rashid as the party’s Punjab president.

Meanwhile, PML-N termed it a “selection, not an election”.

 Marriyum Aurangzeb speaks at a news conference in Rawalpindi on Saturday.—Still from DawnNewsTV
Marriyum Aurangzeb speaks at a news conference in Rawalpindi on Saturday.—Still from DawnNewsTV

In a press conference in Rawalpindi, party spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said: “Once again, the PTI has been involved in a selection all in 15 minutes.”

Questioning how all the candidates were elected unopposed, she said: “PTI’s intra-party elections were done in secrecy.”

Akbar S. Babar to approach ECP against intra-party polls

Meanwhile, Akbar S. Babar, one of the founding members of PTI, announced that the would approach the ECP against how the intra-party polls were conducted.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, he questioned what kind of elections were those in which its founding members could not participate.

Alleging irregularities in how the polls were conducted, he said: “We will present these facts in the ECP and submit them in detail in the coming days.”

He added it would be the ECP’s responsibility to decide on the intra-party polls after considering the material put before it. “Apart from this, if we need to go to the Supreme Court, if our lawyers think it appropriate, then we will do so but this has not yet been decided,” Babar added.

Babar had earlier rejected Gohar’s nomination as a candidate for the party chairman’s slot, calling it a “selection instead of an election”.

In a press statement, Babar had said the nomination of the new PTI chairman had raised serious questions about the transparency and credibility of the entire PTI intra-party election process.

He had said that a party that champions transparency and a level playing field in the national elections was shying away from allowing its workers a level playing field to elect its leadership without interference and manipulation.

The ECP had on Nov 23 annu­lled the PTI’s intra-party polls held in June last year, terming them “highly objectionable”.

The order came at a time when general elections are about two months away and political parties are ratcheting up their poll campaigns across the country.

The PTI, however, has complained about an uneven playing field and termed the ECP’s ruling an attempt to keep Imran and his party away from polls.

A PTI leader told Dawn on condition of anonymity that the decision to appoint Gohar, who is an associate of PPP leader Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, was not a wise move due to his proximity to the PPP stalwart.

But in a statement on Friday, a PTI spokesperson said the party’s decision to hold intra-party elections on the ECP’s directives was a clear sign of the party’s unshakable commitment to democracy and unwavering belief in the rule of law.

The statement said that PTI had also held intra-party elections last year according to the law. However, he added, to set a great example of respect for the law, the party decided to hold the intra-party elections again despite the “illegal decision” of the electoral watchdog, declaring last year’s polls null and void.

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