The PTI’s legal woes

The reserved seats are only one of the legal problems the PTI faces

The elections have not brought an end to the PTI’’s legal woes. The PTI-backed independents’ joining the Sunni Ittehad Council has not translated into the gaining of the reserved women’s and minorities’ seats it was supposed to, because the Election Commission of Pakistan is hearing petitions against the ECP allocating these seats. The debate seems to centre on the fact that the SIC did not contest the February 8 election, even though registered with the ECP, and thus did not submit a list of candidates for the reserved seats. Even as the PTI argued that the National Assembly could not meet without that allocation, there continued preparations of the National Assembly to meet on Thursday (today) for members to take oath and elect a Speaker. At the same time, on Tuesday, PTI Chairman Imran Khan was indicted, along with his wife, in the Al-Qadir University reference, in which the beleaguered couple are accused of having taken the land for the University in exchange for real-estate tycoon Malik Riaz applying £190 million received back from the UK’s National Crime Agency to discharging a fine levied upon him by the Supreme Court. This indictment means that the case against Mr Khan can proceed. He has already been convicted in three other cases, in all of which he has moved the Islamabad High Court for the sentence to be ended. The Damocles’ Sword of the May 9 cases against him remains, though he has obtained bail in many of them.

The party nominees for Chief Minister are not so lucky, with Punjab CM hopeful Mian Aslam Iqbal having failed to take oath as an MPA, and thus having to let Rana Aftab take on the burden of contesting an election he was bound to lose. KP CM nominee Ali Amin Gandapur has had to obtain a blanket bail from the Peshawar High Court. Mr Gandapur is a shoo-in for the job, and cannot afford to be arrested. Now bailed until March 19, he will probably assume office by then, and hope to obtain some relief after that. The party’s nominee for PM, Gohar Ayub Khan, also is avoiding arrest, though now an MNA-elect.

Before aspiring to any office, the PTI has to face the harsh reality that its leaders are enmeshed in legal difficulties of monumental proportions. As other politicians’ experience shows, getting out of the mesh requires patience, with establishment goodwill a separate issue. The PTI should not expect these cases to disappear like magic, but to haunt its leaders for some time.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected].


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