Former prime minister and PTI chief Imran Khan had extended the offer of chairmanship of the party to Hamid Khan before picking Barrister Gohar Ali Khan. However, sources privy to the behind-the-scenes developments disclosed that Hamid Khan declined the offer citing concerns about his age and health
Instead, he suggested Shah Mahmood Qureshi as a potential replacement for the jailed politician. Nonetheless, Qureshi’s candidacy was dismissed due to his imprisonment. The revelations come as the PTI has been trudging along a legal minework to preempt further legal woes if its intra-party polls fall short of the requirements set by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
The party’s recent announcement that Imran Khan would refrain from participating in the intra-party polls due to legal constraints led to Gohar’s nomination as an interim arrangement. However, the unprecedented move –- fuelling speculations about the ‘minus-Imran formula’ – came amid apparent tensions within the party.
Imran ‘picks’ Barrister Gohar for PTI chairman slot
PTI’s spokesperson Shoaib Shaheen, speaking to The Express Tribune, confirmed Imran Khan’s offer of chairmanship to Hamid Khan who turned down the offer. He also dispelled any notions of discord among party leaders regarding Barrister Gohar’s nomination, emphasising unity within the party.
“My point was that the announcement of the nomination should have not been made before the Islamabad High Court hearing about Imran Khan’s plea regarding the suspension of the trial court judgement in the Toshakhana case.
The hearing was scheduled for Thursday. Now the IHC division bench has reserved its decision. The announcement of Barrister Gohar Khan was made on Wednesday by Senator Ali Zafar.” Giving the rationale for not nominating any other senior political leader as party chairman, Shoaib Shaheen said that they do not want to give the impression that the party has accepted a “minus-one formula”.
Meanwhile, Hamid Khan himself confirmed that he had excused himself from accepting the chairmanship of the party. He also supported Barrister Gohar Khan’s nomination as the new PTI chairman in the prevailing political situation wherein political leaders are either underground or imprisoned.
Imran names, temporary successor
Hamid Khan hoped that the president and Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa would ensure the rule of law and supremacy of the constitution in the country. It’s worth noting that Hamid previously represented various bar associations that challenged the presidential reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa during the PTI regime. He openly opposed the PTI government’s decision to file a reference against Justice Isa allegedly at the behest of the establishment.
Moreover, during the PTI government, Hamid Khan wasn’t closely associated with Imran. However, following Imran Khan’s ousting through a constitutional process, Hamid Khan’s proximity to the former seemingly increased.
Within the PTI circles, there’s a belief that PPP senior lawyer Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan shares a close relationship with Imran Khan. It’s notable that Barrister Gohar, Aitzaz’s junior, continues to work alongside him, prompting discussions among certain sections within PTI.
PTI gears up for intra-party polls sans Imran
Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan will call the shots behind the scenes. Hamid said that Gohar was appointed to end legal impediments to the allotment of its ‘Bat’ symbol. However, Shoaib Shaheen said that the PTI core committee would continue the work.
It is being witnessed that presently lawyers are the driving seat of the PTI, with many seeking PTI tickets in the upcoming elections. Among them, Shoaib Shaheen, Dr Babar Awan, and Ali Bukhari have expressed interest in contesting PTI tickets in Islamabad.
In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), Advocate Shair Afzal Marwat plays a leading role within the party.
Furthermore, Salman Akram Raja, Salman Safdar, Uzair Bhandari, and others are actively involved in legal matters about Imran Khan.