PTI raises alarms as ‘horse-trading’ feared after bat lost

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PTI Chairman Gohar Khan

Mehtab Pirzada

RAWALPINDI: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Barrister Gohar Ali Khan has expressed fears that independent candidates could increase the chances of horse-trading as the Imran-led party going to contest the February 8 general elections sans a symbol.

The former ruling party lost its legal battle last Saturday when the Supreme Court announced its verdict in the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) favour, depriving PTI of its ‘bat’ symbol just days ahead of the general elections.

After losing its ‘bat’ sign, the party, which rose to power in 2018, held election authorities responsible for depriving it of hundreds of reserved seats by stripping the party of its electoral symbol.

Speaking to reporters in Rawalpindi on Monday, the politico, however, hoped that even PTI-backed candidates would still follow party directions when it comes to voting following the formation of the next assemblies.

In the PTI’s bid to get ‘justice’, the party will also be filing a review petition against the top court’s verdict which “deprived nationals of their due rights and dented democracy”, he said.

Gohar, however, clarified that his party would formulate its strategy in compliance with the apex court’s judgment.

“PTI leaders, workers, and candidates should not to get disappointed and stay peaceful besides expediting efforts to protect their votes,” the ex-PTI chairman added.

The politician, who was elected as the PTI chairman before the party’s intra-party poll was declared null and void, also announced that the list of party-backed candidates and their symbols would be unveiled on the official website and other social media accounts to facilitate voters within the next three days.

A journalist questioned about expected PTI’s alliance with Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM) ahead of general polls in a bid to curb horse trading and his meeting with the religio-political party’s chairman Allama Raja Nasir Abbas. Gohar rejected holding any meeting with the MWM chief.

Regarding the incarcerated PTI founder’s release, he replied that the party hoped for the early release of Imran Khan, however, the case number for the hearing has not been allotted so far.

To another question about the raid at his house, Barrister Gohar said that Inspector General (IG) Islamabad gave assurance to hold accountability of the responsible officials and some cops were also suspended. He added that the inquiry was still underway and a final report was due to be released.

He said that such actions were not carried out for the first time against the PTI leaders which must be stopped now.

Meanwhile, in his address to the District Bar in Hyderabad, PTI central leader Sher Afzal Marwat alleged that “pre-poll rigging has been started by forcing our candidates to contest general elections independently.”

He censured the Supreme Court’s verdict and said: “Akbar S Babar wanted to be summoned as a PTI founding member. If he is a founding member, then why PTI is deprived of its electoral sign.”

He appealed to Pakistanis to come out of their state of fear and exhibit their real strength on the polling day on February 8.