ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Election Commission (ECP) officially announced on Saturday the rejection of nomination papers submitted by Imran Khan, the founder of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), across various constituencies. This decision significantly impacts the former ruling party’s standing in the forthcoming elections scheduled for February 8, 2024.
Imran Khan had filed papers for candidacy in Lahore’s NA-122 and Mianwali’s NA-89, both of which were dismissed by the electoral body.
This setback deals a significant blow to the party, whose leadership faces numerous legal issues, particularly concerning the May 9 disturbances. Prominent figures like Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi and others are currently incarcerated.
“The PTI founder has been found guilty,” stated the returning officer (RO) responsible for reviewing NA-122 nomination papers, explaining the basis for the decision, which adversely affects PTI’s election prospects.
The objections, raised by Mian Naseer of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), cited Khan’s previous five-year disqualification in the Toshakhana case. These objections were made under Section 167 of the Elections Act, 2017, citing discrepancies with Khan’s proposer and seconder in NA-122.
Similar objections, including disqualification related to the Toshakhana case, allegations concerning an undisclosed daughter, and defaulting on social security funds amounting to Rs3.6 million, were raised against Khan’s candidacy in his stronghold of NA-89 Mianwali — a constituency he previously won.
The returning officer, concurring with the objections, dismissed the former prime minister’s nomination papers.
Furthermore, the ECP rejected nomination papers of PTI Vice Chairman Qureshi from Multan’s NA-150, NA-151, PP-218, and Tharparkar’s NA-214. Additionally, former federal minister and PTI leader Hammad Azhar’s papers were rejected from PP-172.
However, there remains an avenue for appeal for Imran Khan and his associates against the rejection of their nomination papers until January 3. The Appellate Tribunal will decide on these appeals by January 10, following which the revised list of candidates will be published on January 11.
This development adds to the challenges faced by the PTI, with other prominent members like Azam Swati and Zulfi Bukhari also encountering rejections. The party confronts legal and political hurdles, including a crackdown following the May 9 incidents, where military installations were vandalized after Khan’s arrest in a graft case.
Additionally, the ECP filed a review petition in the Peshawar High Court to challenge its previous order that suspended the electoral symbol “bat” of the PTI due to irregularities in intra-party polls.