South Asia

Imran Khan files for election in Mianwali amid legal struggles

Former Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan. File photo.

Former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, had his nomination papers submitted for the upcoming general elections in his home constituency of Mianwali on Friday, despite being disqualified.

Pakistani media reports state that PTI leader Umar Bodla filed the papers on Khan’s behalf for the Pakistan National Assembly’s NA-89 constituency.

Khan, a 70-year-old former international cricket star, has been central to a political crisis since his April 2022 ousting in a parliamentary no-confidence vote.

The cricketer-turned-politician was sentenced to three years in jail on August 5 after being convicted of selling state gifts during his tenure as prime minister from 2018 to 2022, charges which he denies.

Khan is seeking to overturn his conviction, which bars him from contesting elections for five years. After his plea was rejected by the Islamabad High Court, his party decided to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Earlier in the day, Khan’s legal team secured bail for him from the apex court. However, this does not imply his imminent release, as he was arrested in two additional cases during his incarceration.

Khan’s legal team argues that the district court, which sent Khan to jail and disqualified him, delivered a baseless judgment.

Pakistan’s general elections are scheduled for February 8, 2024. Political parties are intensifying their campaigns and attempting to attract politicians with significant voter bases.

The incoming government will need to address economic stabilization and political uncertainty, ongoing issues since PTI’s ousting.

It is too early to predict who will form the central government, but several politicians suggest a coalition government due to the current inability of any party to secure a majority.

Despite his disqualification and strained relations with the establishment, Khan remains pivotal to PTI’s voter appeal, as evidenced when his party released an AI-generated audio message from him to boost supporter morale.

However, PTI may face challenges in the upcoming polls since Khan has stepped down as PTI chairman, passing leadership to Barrister Gohar Khan, a member of the party for approximately one year.