The Pakistan Tehrik Insaf has held intra-party polls as commanded by the Election Commission of Pakistan, and thus has retained the right to remain registered, and thus the right to distribute the party symbol, the bat. To those it selects as candidates.The polls did see the Chairman replaced, as Imran Khan no longer retains that position, which he has held since the party was founded in 1996. Instead, Barrister Gohar Ali Khan has been elected, and thus there is one free person available who can issue tickets. The other authorized official, Secretary General Umar Ayub Khan, was re-elected, having managed to file his nomination papers for unopposed election even though he is still avoiding arrest. Even if he is not taken into custody by the time tickets have to be issued, getting him to sign the requisite letter to the Returning Officer would be a logistical nightmare. At least there is someone who can sign tickets in time.
This does not have impacted the provincial presidents, for all four were elected unopposed, and all are presently behind bars for involvement in the May 9 incidents. That is another weakness of the party, and not just because the PTI will be deprived of their input while determining the best candidates, The PTI lost a large number of officebearers because of the Ma9 attacks, while even more had to go underground. Apart from the loss of their organizing abilities, the party may also find itself deprived of them as candidates. The party has found itself turning to lawyers for more and more functions, and is now likely going to turn towards them for accepting tickets. Instead of the ‘electables’ who flocked to the party in 2018, the PTI is in the awkward position of finding that its ticket is being avoided, because of the pressure that be brought upon whoever accepts it.
Though the PTI has conducted intra-party elections, it does not look like a party which is ready to go into a general election, even though it is at least three months off. It is seeming increasingly likely that polling day, scheduled for February 8, will see Mr Khan behind bars, with the trials of the various cases against him still proceeding, though some cases may have bee decided by then. That means the PTI will not be able to avail his undoubted votegetting ability. Unfortunately for the PTI, Barrister Gohar cannot replace him in that.