Islamabad: Imran Khan Deposed as PTI Leader In a significant political development, Imran Khan, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan and founder of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, has been ousted from his leadership position. Established in 1996, PTI initially struggled to secure a single seat but witnessed a remarkable surge in popularity after the 2018 elections, ultimately propelling Khan to the prime ministership. However, Khan faced a no-confidence vote last year, leading to his removal from office.
Gohar Ali Khan Takes Charge Amid Legal Challenges
Amid legal challenges and imprisonment that Khan alleges are politically motivated to hinder his participation in the upcoming elections, Gohar Khan, an unrelated barrister, has assumed leadership of the PTI. Imran Khan has been in prison since August, awaiting trial on various charges, including accusations of state document leakage. The change in leadership was prompted by the Election Commission of Pakistan’s threat to revoke the party’s emblem—a cricket bat—if it did not conduct an internal vote for party officials.
Symbolic Significance in Pakistan’s Electoral Landscape
Symbols play a crucial role in Pakistan’s elections, particularly considering the country’s adult literacy rate of just 58%, as reported by the World Bank. Despite being barred from participating in the party poll due to his incarceration, Imran Khan, an iconic figure in Pakistan cricket who led the nation to World Cup glory in 1992, continues to be a symbol of moral leadership for the party, according to political analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi. “PTI voters vote for the election symbol, for Imran Khan,” Rizvi stated.
PTI Faces Broad Crackdown
The PTI party is grappling with a widespread crackdown, with many leading members either imprisoned or forced to leave. Legal entanglements for politicians are commonplace in Pakistan. They are often perceived as being manipulated by the influential military, which has directly governed the country for more than half of its history.
Legal Developments and Political Landscape
In related news, a corruption case hearing against Imran Khan was postponed at a special court within his prison. Lawyers protested the media’s exclusion despite a judge’s order for an open trial. Meanwhile, a court absolved former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who returned from self-imposed exile in October to relaunch his political career, of a graft conviction on Wednesday. Sharif is out on bail, appealing multiple corruption convictions to clear his name before the February elections. His younger brother, Shehbaz Sharif, assumed power in the coalition that deposed Imran Khan.