Gohar picked to head PTI as Khan ‘decides to stay away’ from intra-party polls

  • Senator Ali Zafar says step aims to pre-empt any bid to deprive party of ‘bat’ symbol
  • Says Imran Khan to return as chairman once his disqualification overturned
  • ‘Am speechless, don’t have words to thank my leader’, says Barrister Gohar

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Wednesday nominated Barrister Gohar Khan, a member of his legal team, for the slot of the party’s chairman under a temporary arrangement.

Under the arrangement, Imran Khan would not contest the upcoming intra-party polls to pre-empt any illegal or unconstitutional steps by the ECP to prevent the party from getting the bat as electoral symbol or cancel the nominations of its candidates.

The announcement was made by PTI senior leader Senator Barrister Ali Zafar during a press conference flanked by Barrister Gohar Khan and PTI Central Information Secretary Raoof Hasan outside Election Commission office here on Wednesday.

Talking to media, Barrister Ali Zafar announced that Chairman Imran Khan will not be contesting the intra-party polls scheduled for December 2 (Saturday) due to his legal problems, hence Gohar had been nominated for the slot of the party chairmanship under a temporary arrangement.

He, however, declared that the party would challenge the ECP’s decision nullifying the party’s intra-party polls and ordering the party to hold the intra-party election within 20 days, terming decision “illegal and unconstitutional.”

The announcement comes a day after the party found itself embroiled in fresh controversy after denying a statement by Sher Afzal Khan Marwat, who had claimed that Imran would not contest the upcoming intra-party polls for the slot of party chairman and that he had picked someone to contest in his stead.

The PTI senior leader said that Gohar was an appropriate pick as caretaker chairman and with his nomination, they would realise that this was not a minus-one formula because he was Chairman PTI’s own nominee and was appropriate for the temporary arrangement they were implementing.

Barrister Zafar said the chairmanship is temporary, as Khan would return as chairman of the party once his disqualification in the wake of the Toshakhana case is overturned, as there is no concept of PTI without Imran Khan.

PTI senator made it clear: “PTI is Imran Khan and Imran Khan is PTI. PTI is nothing without Imran Khan. It doesn’t matter if you are the chairman on paper. The leader, and the continuous leader, is Imran Khan.”

Zafar said that the party had to overcome legal hurdles as well as implement the ECP’s illegal and unconstitutional order on holding intra-party polls which is why it was taking this step.

He said that PTI Chairman had been convicted in the Toshakhana case, though the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had suspended his three-year sentence, final decision had not yet been made.

PTI senator went on to say that a person could not be disqualified for failing to declare Toshakhana gifts; however, they took the decision to pre-empt any illegal or unconstitutional steps by the ECP to deprive the party of its electoral symbol bat or cancel the nominations of its candidates.

He noted that all these matters were discussed with PTI Chairman in the presence of other lawyers, adding that Imran Khan did not want to give the ECP any excuse for not giving the party the bat symbol in the next general elections.

Ali Zafar quoted PTI Chairman as saying, “The public is with us. We will win the elections when they happen. I want to take part in the general election. Intra-party polls hold no meaning for me. I want that the Toshkahana case is decided as soon as possible. When it is decided, I will contest intra-party polls as chairman.”

He disclosed that PTI Chairman had directed the party to hold intra-party polls and the decision was placed before the senior leadership, which, they had approved it.

However, Zafar contended that the question then arose about the candidates for the intra-party polls and the nominee for the chairman and names of several prominent personalities were discussed but all of them had been appointed to permanent positions within the party.

“It would not be appropriate to give them a temporary position. That is why we need someone who is not controversial and can play a role in this caretaker mode, this temporary arrangement,” he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Barrister Gohar said: “I am speechless. I do not have words to thank my leader Imran Khan.”

He said that Imran was the leader of the PTI whether he was in jail or free. “Khan was the leader and chairman, is the chairman and God willing, will remain the chairman till last breath of his,” he said, adding that he would handle the post as party chairman until Imran returned.

As the political landscape in Pakistan evolves, the nomination of Barrister Gohar Khan is expected to generate interest and speculation within the PTI ranks and beyond. The upcoming intra-party election will be closely watched, with the outcome likely to shape the future trajectory of PTI’s leadership.

Who is Barrister Gohar Khan?

Barrister Gohar Khan, hailing from the Buner district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, brings a wealth of legal expertise to the table, being a distinguished lawyer of the Supreme Court. His academic background includes an LLB from the University of Wolverhampton, UK, and an LLM from Washington Civil of Law, USA, highlighting a global perspective in his legal education.

Having been associated with Aitraz Ahsan & Associates for an extended period, Barrister Gohar honed his legal skills under the direct guidance of Aitzaz Ahsan, a prominent figure in the legal fraternity. This experience has undoubtedly contributed to Barrister Gohar’s nuanced understanding of legal intricacies.

Importantly, Barrister Gohar Khan has served as a trusted member of Imran Khan’s legal team for the past year, signifying a strong professional relationship between the two. This endorsement by the PTI Chairman further solidifies Barrister Gohar’s standing within the party and positions him as a key player in the forthcoming intra-party election.

‘PTI must stand united’

Separately, PTI Senior Vice President Marwat congratulated Gohar. “PTI must stand united in this difficult time and do all the best to work towards national interest,” he said on a post on X (formerly Twitter).

“I have a message to all those who are busy in propagandas of all sorts. If you are patriotic, you should stop maligning others,” Marwat said.

“I request you all to please keep solidarity and keep your personal likings and agendas on side. We are one team and we will all support Gohar sahib so he can continue to lead PTI in Khan sahib’s ineligibility.

“Please understand we have more important issues to resolve in Pakistan — we have to put up our fight against this continuous oppression on our democratic rights. We have to focus on Pakistan, its freedom and betterment and work as one! Our leader and the nation in large cannot afford propagandas of any sort at this defining moment. I ask for maturity and seriousness to the larger cause,” he said.

PTI’s Zulfi Bukhari also congratulated Gohar for “this monumental honour”.

“I’m certain he will play the role of our temporary/interim chairman to the best of his abilities. And provide all the relevant information to our forever leader/chair and Quaid Imran Khan,” he said.

Bukhari said Imran had once again shown that the PTI was not a “party of entitlement nor can there ever be ‘minus-one’.”

 

Saleem Jadoon
Saleem Jadoon
News Editor at Pakistan Today

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