Jailed Khan’s party stakes claim to government as Pakistan political crisis prolongs

Islamabad, Feb. 13 (EFE).- Jailed leader Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) said on Tuesday that it would field its candidate for prime minister’s post, opting out of any possible coalition amid a political deadlock following hung parliament results.

Spokesperson Ahmed Janjua said the PTI formed special committees to strategize government formation at the center and in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces, where independent candidates supported by the party have secured more seats than any other party.

“The party has agreed to nominate candidates for premier, speaker of the National Assembly, and other important parliamentary positions on its own,” the spokesperson told EFE.

He said candidate announcements would follow committee recommendations soon.

“It is clear that PTI is not going to make any alliance with any party. So, it will put forth its own candidates for the premiership and other government positions,” Janjua said.

In a core committee meeting on Monday, PTI resolved to contest legal battles in constituencies where independent candidates it supported faced alleged post-election rigging.

“We will strongly resist at all levels the undemocratic, illegal, apolitical, and immoral attempts to hand over Pakistan to criminals by robbing the public mandate,” the decision-making body of the party said in a statement after the meeting.

Khan, 71, the charismatic cricketer-turned-politician, has been imprisoned after multiple convictions on various charges, including an un-Islamic and illegal marriage with his third wife, Bushra Bibi, a faith healer, who has also been jailed.

Khan rose to Pakistan’s highest political office in 2018 before controversially being ousted from power in April 2022.

The PTI was effectively barred from contesting after the country’s top court stripped it of its cricket bat election symbol.

To circumvent the restrictions, the party put up independent candidates to fight the elections.

Accusing the military of favoring the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) to secure Nawaz Sharif’s fourth term, PTI alleges mass electoral misconduct and has challenged results in over 100 provincial and central constituencies.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has denied the elections were rigged.

The party said the results in more than 100 provincial and central constituencies have been challenged in court.

Independent candidates, largely supported by PTI, dominated with 101 seats in the aftermath of the Feb. 8 elections, followed by PML-N with 75 and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) with 54.

The hung verdict has deepened the political deadlock in crisis-ridden Pakistan, with no party able to form a government on its own.

The PPP, led by the former foreign minister, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, is meeting again on Tuesday to consider the offer by PML-N to form a coalition government after its first inconclusive sitting on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) highlighted instances of non-compliance by district election officials in preparing provisional results, citing violations during the tabulation process across various constituencies.

Several candidates complained they were forced to leave when results were being compiled by the election officials.

“This non-compliance has overshadowed an otherwise largely controversy-free voting and counting process at the polling stations,” FAFEN said in a statement.

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