Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Senator Ali Zafar announced on Wednesday that Barrister Gohar will contest the intra-party elections for the position of party chairman and not the incarcerated leader. However, Zafar hastened to add that the move did not mean a ‘minus one’ formula was being implemented.
The intra-party elections will be held on December 2 to implement an order by the Election Commission of Pakistan, said Zafar.
He said Gohar had been nominated by Imran Khan himself.
Zafar said that the party had two options, challenging the Election Commission of Pakistan’s decision on intra-party elections or holding an election. He said that the party had opted to do both.
He told reporters that the party held deliberations and pondered over three questions:
- Whether or not Imran Khan was eligible to run for the party chairmanship,
- Even if Khan was eligible to run was there any risk that the ECP would declare an election with Imran Khan as candidate as null and void, and
- If Imran Khan decides against running for the party chairmanship, who would be the candidate?
Barrister Ali Zafar said that the party concluded that Imran Khan was eligible to run for the election of party chief but there was a risk that such an election would be declared void and it would hurt the party.
When deciding about the third question, the party agreed that all the ‘towering personalities’ in the party were holding permanent positions, said Zafar, adding that it was then decided that a non-controversial leader would be picked.
He then announced the name of Barrister Gohar.
Zafar added that there was no concept of PTI without Imran Khan and he would remain the party’s leader. He confirmed that Imran would not contest the elections.
Gohar told the media that he would manage the party until Imran could take over again. He said that the party and the party’s struggle were the same as it was.
Gohar thanked Imran Khan saying “I am speechless. I don’t have words to thank Imran Khan for posing trust in me.”
“I am only a nominee and successor. Imran Khan would be the chairman for his life. I will fulfil the responsibilities until Imran Khan returns to his position.”
Until a few hours before the announcement was made official, conflicting accounts continued to emerge about who would contest the post of PTI chairman.
The speculation over Imran agreeing to let someone else become party chairman first began with a statement from Sher Afzal Marwat on Tuesday.
However, PTI’s Senator Ali Zafar also gave credibility to the reports and even went far enough to say that a name has already been finalised.
Zafar told Geo News that he had met Khan in jail where the Election Commission of Pakistan’s verdict was discussed.
According to Zafar, Khan agreed that the verdict should be challenged. However, the possibility of ECP raising objections over the intra-party elections if Khan was re-elected chairman unopposed was also discussed.
Zafar said that in view of the concerns, Khan had agreed that someone else could become chairman and a name has also been finalised.
The senator clarified that Khan would continue to call the shots in the party and the chairman would only handle technical day-to-day matters.
While Zafar or Marwat have not clearly identified any names, speculation is growing that Barrister Gohar could be a strong candidate.
Gohar has been a key member of Khan’s legal team over the past year and continues to represent him in many cases.
He was associated with Aitzaz Ahsan for a long time and practiced law under his supervision.
Khosa refutes ‘minus one’ reports
Meanwhile, Latif Khosa emerged from Adiala Jail after a fresh meeting with Imran Khan and said that the former PM had clearly told him there would be no change in party chairmanship.
Khosa told reporters that Marwat and Zafar might have misunderstood the matter that led to their statements.
The lawyer also added that Imran would be the candidate for chairman in the upcoming intra-party election.
Who is Barrister Gohar Ali Khan?
Gohar Khan is a practicing lawyer at the Supreme Court of Pakistan, regularly representing cases in various high courts, according to information from the PTI leader’s website.
Following his legal studies at Wolverhampton University in the United Kingdom, he obtained an LLM from the Washington School of Law in the United States.
Gohar has an active legal career and more than 50 published rulings in a variety of fields, including banking, corporate law, taxation, arbitration, and election law.
His trial experience includes both civil and criminal cases, and he has the distinction of having appeared before prestigious courts such as its Court of Appeal, Field General Court Martial, and Supreme Judicial Council.
Gohar’s clientele consists of both public and private organizations, and prominent people like Imran are among them.
Previously associated with the Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarian, Gohar contested the National Assembly elections in 2008 under their banner but did not win. He later joined the PTI in July 2022.