Imran Khan to return as Pakistan PM, says senior party leader

Khan, who is in jail, has been barred from contesting elections and was also disqualified from holding any public office for 10 years

Peshawar: Jailed former Pakistan leader Imran Khan will return to the post of prime minister again, his party’s senior member Faisal Javed claimed on Monday as allegations of massive rigging of the elections shook the country, amid public admission of vote manipulation by an election official.

Speaking after securing a transit bail from the Peshawar High Court (PHC) in a case, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Senator said that party chief Khan would be contesting elections from the Mianwali constituency.

“And God willing, he will become the prime minister of Pakistan again,” the Dawn newspaper quoted him as saying.

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The nomination papers of the 71-year-old former prime minister Khan were rejected for two National Assembly constituencies in Lahore and Mianwali districts of the Punjab province for the February 8 elections.

Khan, who is in jail, has been barred from contesting elections and was also disqualified from holding any public office for 10 years.

While independent candidates backed by Khan’s PTI party won the maximum number of seats in Parliament in the polls, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) have announced that they will form a coalition government after the elections resulted in a hung Parliament.

In an interview with Geo News, Javed said that the voter turnout on February 8, the election day, was “unprecedented” in the country’s history.

Javed had gone into hiding after the state launched a crackdown on the PTI party after the May 9 violence in the country last year and reappeared on Monday during the hearing at the PHC.

Various key military structures were damaged in the violence which followed the former-cricketer-turned-politician Khan’s arrest by the paramilitary Rangers in Islamabad in 2023.

Khan’s beleaguered party received a major boost on Saturday when a senior government official in charge of the election process in the garrison city of Rawalpindi alleged that rigging took place and dragged the Chief Election Commissioner and the Chief Justice into it.

Rawalpindi Commissioner Liaquat Ali Chattha, in a bombshell press conference on Saturday, alleged that he oversaw the rigging to deprive Khan’s PTI party of 13 seats, which were given to candidates who were “losing” the elections in the city.

Chattha also claimed that Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa and Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja were involved in the alleged rigging and resigned from his office after “accepting responsibility” for the manipulation of poll results.

Buoyed by the allegations of vote rigging, the PTI on Sunday demanded a judicial probe into the manipulation of the results of the elections.

The PTI claims to have won more than 180 seats in the 266-member National Assembly (NA) according to Form 45 (manual result sheet) but says the results were manipulated and most of its over 90 NA seats were gifted to the three-time former premier Nawaz Sharif-led Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

To form a government, a party must win 133 out of 265 contested seats in the 266-member National Assembly.

Independent candidates – a majority backed by Khan’s PTI party won 93 National Assembly seats in the election.

The PML-N won 75 seats, while the PPP came third with 54 seats. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P) has also agreed to support them with their 17 seats.

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