• PTI to hold intra-party elections on March 3
• Ali Zafar nominated for chairman slot, Omar Ayub for secretary general’s
• Over six million party members to cast votes in five cities, party leaders claim

ISLAMABAD: PTI founding chairman Imran Khan will write to the IMF urging it to call for an independent audit of the Feb 8 general elections before it continues talks with Islamabad, PTI leader Senator Ali Zafar disclosed on Thursday.

The PTI has also decided to hold intra-party elections on March 3, with over six million party members allowed to cast their votes physically in five major cities.

Speaking to the media in Rawalpindi outside Adiala Jail, where the former premier is imprisoned, Mr Zafar said: “I want to give important information which Mr Khan said. A letter will be issued from him to the International Monetary Fund.”

He said the IMF, the European Union and other organisations had a charter that stated that good governance was needed for working in the country or giving a loan.

“The most important condition for good governance is democracy,” he said, adding that the people’s mandate was stolen “in the darkness of the night” during the Feb 8 polls.

He said that if elections were not free and fair, any organisation would avoid giving a “loan” to such a country. “Because that loan will further burden the people,” he said.

He said the PTI wanted an audit of the election results and that condition would be put in front of the IMF. Pakistan averted default last summer thanks to a short-term IMF bailout, but the programme expires in April and a new government will have to negotiate a long-term arrangement to keep the economy stable.

The IMF met with political parties last year to seek assurances of their support for key objectives and policies under the bailout programme.

Intra-party polls

The PTI has also decided to hold intra-party elections on March 3, with Imran Khan nominating Mr Zafar as the candidate for PTI chairman.

The party earlier conducted its elections in Peshawar in December, in which all party representatives, including chairman Barrister Gohar Khan, were elected unopposed.

However, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) rejected the elections, a decision later upheld by the Supreme Court. As a result, the party was deprived of its election symbol, ‘bat’, and had to contest general elections through independent candidates.

The PTI again decided to hold intra-party elections on Feb 5, three days before general elections, but then withdrew the decision.

A senior party official, wishing not to be named, told Dawn that this time intra-party elections would be held in Islamabad and all the provincial capitals, i.e. Lahore, Karachi, Quetta and Peshawar. Over six million party members would be allowed to cast their votes physically.

He said PTI leader Raoof Hasan had already been nominated as the party’s federal chief election commissioner and there would be four provincial commissioners to supervise the polls.

He said that on Friday (today), candidates would be able to collect nomination papers from party offices and they would also be able to download them from the PTI’s website.

“Scrutiny of the nomination papers submitted will be done on Feb 24 and 25 and names of the candidates will be an­­nounced on Feb 26. Finally, elections will be held on March 3,” he said and added election results would be declared by 8pm on election day and would be notified the next day (March 4).

He said that former premier Imran Khan had nominated Barrister Ali Zafar for the chairman’s slot, so he would win.

On the other hand, founding PTI member Akbar S. Babar has announced that he would challenge the party’s decision to conduct intraparty elections and would take the matter to the ECP.

Last week, after a meeting with Imran Khan, MNA Ali Muhammad Khan said that the party’s founding chairman had instructed to hold intra-party elections at the earliest.

Speaking to the media in Rawalpindi later, Barrister Gohar Khan said Senator Ali Zafar would contest the party elections for the slot of chairman and Omar Ayub Khan would contest for the position of secretary general.

Meanwhile, after a meeting with Bushra Bibi at the Banigala residence, her lawyers Salman Safdar and Mashal Yousufzai were restrained by the police from speaking to the media.

Ms Yousufzai said that her client was not well and needed treatment.

‘PTI to sit with everyone if stolen seats returned’

Meanwhile, Imran Khan’s sister, Aleema Khan, has said PTI would have talked to other political parties if its “stolen seats” were returned to it.

Speaking to the media outside Adiala Jail, Ms Khan said she was denied a meeting with her brother, who is currently incarcerated there. She criticised the judicial system, claiming that hearings were not being held properly.

On the matter of not holding a dialogue with the PPP, she said, “Could Imran make a government with the PPP? … The matter is that when the PPP offered to meet, we asked them to return our stolen seats.

“Tell them that if they return all our seats, we will sit with everyone,” she said, alleging that the PML-N, PPP and MQM-P had won multiple NA seats wrongfully.

Published in Dawn, February 23rd, 2024

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