Imran picks Omar Ayub as PTI’s candidate for prime minister, Mian Aslam Iqbal as Punjab CM

Published February 15, 2024
The combo photo shows PTI leaders Omer Ayub Khan (L) and Mian Aslam Iqbal (R). — File
The combo photo shows PTI leaders Omer Ayub Khan (L) and Mian Aslam Iqbal (R). — File

PTI leader Barrister Gohar Khan on Thursday said former premier Imran Khan had nominated Omer Ayub as the candidate for prime minister while Mian Aslam Iqbal was picked for the slot of Punjab chief minister.

The development came after Barrister Gohar and other PTI leaders held a flurry of meetings with the imprisoned party chief at Adiala Jail to discuss the current political scenario.

With post-election deal-making in high gear, the PTI — like all other political parties — is weighing its options. Earlier this week, the Imran-led party, whose independent candidates clinched a lion’s share in the polls, said it would ally with the Majlis Wahdat-i-Muslimeen in the Centre and Punjab.

The party had said it would form a coalition government with the Jamaat-i-Islami in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. However, JI’s Liaquat Baloch later said that his party was not interested in working with the PTI in the province.

In a media talk outside Adiala Jail today, Barrister Gohar said Imran had nominated PTI central general secretary Omar Ayub Khan — who is in hiding after facing over 20 criminal charges following the May 9 riots — as the candidate for prime minister.

Meanwhile, Mian Aslam Iqbal was nominated for the slot of Punjab chief minister and deliberation was underway over the nomination of Salaar Khan Kakar as Balochistan CM. Barrister Gohar said Aqibullah Khan — brother of PTI leader Asad Qaiser — was picked for the position of the speaker of the KP Assembly.

He said the PTI’s nominations for the National Assembly speaker and deputy speaker would be announced in the upcoming days.

Barrister Gohar further asserted that the PTI would not engage in power-sharing with the PML-N, PPP and MQM-P. “Imran Khan has clearly said that the politics of PTI is not for power-sharing but for the public,” he said.

“The PTI is doing politics for the protection of the public’s rights and believes in the supremacy of the mandate and democracy,” he highlighted. “Therefore, we don’t believe in any power-sharing.”

“We will do strong opposition until our full mandate is returned, but we are in the position to form governments in Punjab, KP and Centre,” Gohar said.

He also said that the party would hold a peaceful protest across the country on Saturday (February 17) against the “marginalisation of the PTI”, claiming that the party had won a “clear mandate” but it was being “snatched”.

Barrister Gohar invited all other political parties that were protesting the February 8 election results — specifically naming the Grand Democratic Alliance, Jamaat-i-Islami, Jamiat-i-Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan and Awami National Party — to join the PTI.

He added that the PTI would record a peaceful protest on Saturday afternoon and requested the public to participate in it. “These elections were very critical […] and we won’t let our mandate be stolen.”

Meanwhile, in response to a question, Gohar refuted reports regarding talks with the PPP and a coalition with the PTI-Parliamentarians. He also urged the Election Commission of Pakistan and the judiciary to fix petitions filed by the party against alleged rigging in several constituencies, saying that a delay in the same would affect the “larger mandate”.

Qaiser says tasked with reaching out to political parties

Earlier in the day, former National Assembly speaker Asad 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 outside Adiala Jail. A day earlier, Qaiser had petitioned the Islamabad High Court seeking permission to meet Imran.

In a media talk today, Qaiser alleged that the Feb 8 polls had no credibility both locally and internationally.

“Therefore, we have decided that we will protest against this [elections] across the country and I will myself reach out to political parties for this purpose,” Qaiser added.

In response to a question, he stated that PTI-backed candidates who had won the polls would not resign in any condition and would sit in the assemblies. The PTI leader further added that the party would call its parliamentary session in “a day or two”.

Message for US

Meanwhile, former senator Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif said Imran had conveyed a special message regarding the statement issued by the US on the general elections.

“We believe that the US has in every period either supported dictators or brought forward the most corrupt leaders […] and democracy was ridiculed by bringing such people,” Barrister Saif said.

“Imran Khan sahib has sent a message that the US has a chance to clean its past by keeping an eye on rigging in Pakistan’s elections,” he stated, reiterating that the Feb 8 polls were the “worst and most rigging elections in the country’s history”.

On being questioned about Imran changing his stance on the US, Barrister Saif clarified that the PTI founder’s statement was in response to the State Department’s recent press briefing in which it had called for the investigation of claims of interference and fraud in the elections.

“This is our response that the US should pressurise those involved in rigging instead of issuing such cosmetic statements,” he added.

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