ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) confirmed on Saturday that it has rejected the nomination papers for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khanb, dealing a major blow to the former Prime Minister ahead of the upcoming elections slated for February 8, 2024, The News International reported on Saturday.
Despite being disqualified from contesting the upcoming general elections in Pakistan, jailed ex-PM, Imran Khan submitted his nomination papers from his home constituency in Mianwali on Friday, as reported by Geo News. Khan had his nomination papers submitted for the National Assembly’s NA-89 constituency. PTI leader Umar Bodla appeared on the former prime minister’s behalf.
The PTI founder, a 70-year-old former international cricket star, has been at the centre of a political crisis since he was ousted in a parliamentary no-confidence vote in April 2022. The cricketer-turned-politician was sent to jail for three years on August 5 after being found guilty of selling state gifts during his 2018-22 tenure as prime minister–the charges he denies, Geo News reported.
Khan is seeking to overturn that conviction, which has barred him from contesting elections for five years. He filed a plea in the Islamabad High Court, but it was rejected, after which the party moved to the Supreme Court. In a separate victory for his legal team, they managed to get him bail from the apex court earlier in the day; however, the incarcerated former PM still won’t be able to come out of jail anytime soon as he was arrested in two more cases during his incarceration, according to Geo News.
Khan’s legal team says that the district court, which sent Khan to jail and had him disqualified, gave a “baseless” judgement. Pakistan’s general elections will take place on February 8, 2024, with political parties turning up the heat by staging rallies or wooing politicians with a substantial voter base into their ranks.
The top two issues that the incoming government will have to deal with are economic stabilisation and political uncertainty, both of which have been persistent since PTI’s ouster. According to Geo News, several politicians have hinted that a coalition would rule the country as no single leader or party is in a position to form the majority.
Despite his disqualification and fallout with the establishment, Khan remains a crucial reason for PTI’s vote bank, as was evident when his party released an AI-generated audio of Khan to boost the supporters’ morale, Geo News reported. An uphill task remains for the PTI as it goes into the polls after Khan stepped down as the PTI chairman and handed over the reins to Barrister Gohar Khan, the man who has been in the party for around a year.