PTI-backed independents to join Sunni Ittehad Council: Barrister Gohar

Published February 19, 2024
PTI and Sunni Ittehad Council leaders address the media on Feb 19, 2024. — DawnNewsTv
PTI and Sunni Ittehad Council leaders address the media on Feb 19, 2024. — DawnNewsTv

PTI leader Barrister Gohar Ali Khan on Monday announced that party-backed independent candidates — who emerged victorious in the Centre, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa during the 2024 general elections — would join right-wing party Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) as part of their parliamentary strategy.

He addressed the media in Islamabad today alongside party leaders Raoof Hasan, PTI PM candidate Omar Ayub Khan, SIC Chairman Sahibzada Hamid Raza and Majlis Wahadat-i-Muslimeen (MWM) Secretary General Allama Raja Nasir Abbas.

“Our candidates have submitted their affidavits with us and with their consent today we are announcing that PTI-supported independents are joining the Sunni Ittehad Council,” Barrister Gohar said.

He made it clear that the party reached a “formal agreement” with the SIC, and it would be submitted to the Election Commission of Pakistan today.

“There are 70 reserved seats in the National Assembly and there are 227 reserved seats in the entire country,” he said. “These seats are only provided to political parties.

“Therefore, to protect our reserved seats and provide the cover to our members, we have reached a formal agreement under which all our candidates have joined the party and we will present this documentation before the ECP,” he said.

Gohar said a request would also be filed in the ECP regarding the allocation of reserved seats as per the party strength and law.

“We claim that the PTI has won 180 National Assembly seats,” he said, adding that all the independent candidates contested the polls on PTI tickets and were supported by the party.

“Thankfully, they have won in a big number in all provinces […] of these only three have been notified yet,” Barrister Gohar said.

Alliance to strengthen PTI, says Omar Ayub

Meanwhile, Ayub said his party wanted unity in the country and therefore party-backed candidates decided to join the SIC in the Centre and all provinces.

“This is because the quota of reserved seats lies with political parties. Coming together with the Sunni Ittehad Council would increase the PTI’s strength in the National Assembly,” he said.

In the light of the explosive rigging allegations of former Rawalpindi commissioner Liaquat Ali Chatha, Ayub said the PTI had demanded that party-supported candidates should be declared “returned candidates”.

“We had also said that the MQM-P stole PTI’s mandate in Karachi and Hyderabad,” he said, adding that a similar case also persisted in Peshawar.

Ayub added that after joining the SIC, the PTI would form governments. “Our first job would be to set free Imran Khan, Bushra Bibi, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Parvez Elahi and all our senior leadership,” he vowed.

He also lauded and thanked the MWM for the support it provided to the Imran Khan-led party.

Policy to be decided by Imran and PTI, says Hafiz Hamid Raza

Meanwhile, SIC’s Hafiz Raza said his party’s alliance with the PTI dates back nearly eight years.

“But the way PTI’s ‘bat’ was taken just a few days before elections […] I want to clarify that this is not a ‘single-handed’ decision. It includes the approval of PTI leadership and Imran Khan,” he said.

Raza added that SIC and MWM were two parties that had always opposed sectarian violence and did not believe in militancy. “We have a clear stance on banned outfits,” he stated.

“I want to clarify one more thing that our support of Imran Khan and the PTI is unconditional and without any demand,” the SIC leader said. “I want to make it clear, in black and white, that the policy will be of the PTI and Imran Khan sahib.”

PTI-JUI-P alliance

Meanwhile, the PTI and the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam Pakistan (JUI-P) also announced an alliance for “political stability”.

“I am indebted to PTI for taking JUI-P into confidence in the current scenario and opting for an alliance for the way forward,” a JUI-P leader said at a press conference.

Barrister Gohar said both parties had affirmed to continue contacts. “We all agree that this country is ours, democracy should continue moving forward […] and we will take a step forward to improve the economy.”

He said that both the parties agreed to continue the struggle against alleged rigging in the Feb 8 polls.

Ayub said he and the party had traditional relations of respect with the JUI-P. He said the two parties had united due to their patriotism and stressed the need for economic strengthening.

“The economy will strengthen when a strong prime minister of a strong party is present, not one with 40 seats from a rigged election with irregularities who has no worth and no one listens to. He won’t be able to make decisions so the need of the hour is that the nation needs a strong government which only the PTI can provide.”

Ayub reiterated the party’s claim of 180 seats and called for their Form 47 to be issued as per Form 45, saying that officials had also admitted to rigging such as the former Rawalpindi commissioner.

He claimed that results of more contested seats would come in the party’s favour in the next few days and the PTI would form government in the four provinces and the Centre.

Barrister Gohar also called for the results to be declared as per Form 45, adding that the way forward was simple and the party did not want to open a “pandora’s box”.

The JUI-P representative said the political alliance with the PTI had existed for quite some time and as per Maulana Mohammad Khan Sherani, “this alliance will remain forever.”

He said disagreements were only temporary. He said the problems plaguing the country were those of lawlessness, peace and order.

PTI leader Asad Qaiser said his party was in touch with the Grand Democratic Alliance and the Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party for an alliance.

“God willing we will go to Quetta and Karachi in the coming day […] we will not allow anyone to take any decisions behind closed doors, these decisions need to be taken as per the law and Constitution,” he said.

Qaiser claimed that his party won the public’s mandate and was the largest political force in the country. “Any other government that comes will be fake and would not be able to solve Pakistan’s problems,” he added.

The PTI leader further hoped that his party’s grievances would be heard in courts.

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