PTI breaks the ice with perennial nemesis Fazl

ISLAMABAD: PTI founder Imran Khan on Thursday nominated Omar Ayub as the party nominee for the post of prime minister as he instructed his party leaders to make contact with other aggrieved parties to put up a joint front against alleged rigging on Feb 8.

This was revealed by PTI leader Asad Qaiser, who was allowed to meet the former premier in Adiala Jail along with Barrister Saif, in his interaction with journalists outside the prison following his meeting with the party founding chairman.

In the meeting, Imran Khan tasked Asad Qaiser with reaching out to all political parties, particularly the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F), Awami National Party (ANP), Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) among others to initiate a nationwide campaign against alleged rigging in 2024 polls. ANP, however, rebuffed the talks offer.

In light of their party leader’s directives, a delegation of the PTI, comprising Asad Qaiser, Amir Dogar, Barrister Saif, and others, called on Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman at his residence in Islamabad on Thursday night, hoping to convince their arch-rival to join the anti-rigging drive.

After a rare hour-long meeting, the JUI-F and PTI leaders addressed a press conference in which both sides agreed that the elections were allegedly rigged. Hafiz Hamdullah said there were no differences between the PTI and the JUI-F regarding the fact that a political crisis has emerged after the 2024 elections.

“The point of view presented by the PTI is the same as the one highlighted by the JUI-F Cen­tral Executive Committee meeting,” Hafiz Hamdullah said. He added that both the JUI-F and PTI agreed that the election would neither bring political stability nor economic stability to the country. However, he added that the next step had not been decided yet and it will be decided at a later stage.

While expressing his point of view, Barrister Saif said that it has been directed by the party leader Imran Khan that they should reach out to all the political parties who agree with their point of view regarding the elections. He announced that the PTI would launch a nationwide protest drive from February 17 against the election “rigging” which will continue till they reclaim their mandate. PTI’s Saif said that the result of the general elections was neither acceptable to the nation nor the political parties.

The delegation led by Asad Qaiser — who heads the PTI political committee — was delayed by more than two hours as it reached the residence of the JUI-F leader at 10pm. Speaking to reporters at the gate of the residence, MNA-elect Amir Dogar said the meeting was to discuss the recent political situation. He also said that they wanted to seek the support of Maulana Fazl for the PTI’s candidate during the vote for the slot of the premiership.

Meanwhile, an official of the JUI-F after coming out of the gate said that both the parties were opposed to the rigging in the elections and the PTI delegation had asked Maulana Fazl to sit on the opposition benches.

Mian Aslam for Punjab CM

In the morning, Asad Qaiser told reporters that their candidate for the post of the premier will be Omar Ayub, who won his NA seat from Haripur, whereas Aqibullah — Mr Qaiser’s brother — will be the candidate for the KP Assembly speaker. The PTI leader claimed Mr Ayub would become the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly if he lost the election for the premiership.

Separately, PTI ex-chairman Gohar Ali Khan said PTI leader Mian Aslam Iqbal will be the party’s candidate for the chief ministership in Punjab and added that the nominations for the posts of the speaker and deputy speaker in the National Assembly will be announced at a later stage.

He added that the PTI would record a peaceful protest on Saturday afternoon and requested the public to participate in it.

Talking to the media persons, Barrister Saif said that Mr Khan had relayed a message for the US government, urging Washington to condemn in “strongest possible terms” the alleged rigging and mismanagement in the Feb 8 elections.

The PTI also said it will hold its intraparty elections after the completion of contests of the prime minister, speakers in national and provincial assembles, and chief ministers.

Accountability Judge Muha­mmad Bashir could not indict the ex-PM and his spouse Bushra Bibi on Thursday in the Al-Qadir Trust case. This was the second time he skipped the hearing. He had gone on leave on Feb 6.

Shujaat meets Elahi

Meanwhile, PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain also went to Adiala Jail to inquire about his detained cousin, PTI President Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi. He was accompanied by Chaudhry Wajahat Hussain, Chaudhry Salik Hussain, Chaudhry Shafay Hussain and Muntaha Ashraf.

PTI’s ‘strange’ selection

Separately, in a strange turn of events, the PTI founder, Imran Khan, has nominated a candidate for the post of Balochistan chief minister who didn’t even contest the election for any seat of the Balochistan Assembly.

Talking to the media after meeting the party’s founder in Adiala Jail, PTI’s Chairman, Barrister Gohar Ali Khan, said the name of Salar Khan Kakar has been finalised for the slot of Balochistan CM.

Interestingly, PTI’s official list of 51 candidates who were awarded tickets for the provincial assembly’s seats didn’t include the name of Mr Kakkar, who is PTI Balochistan’s general secretary and member of the party’s core committee.

Mr Kakar had contested the election on NA-263 but lost to PML-N’s Jamal Shah Kakar.

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