In a significant turn of events, Pakistan’s Election Commission (ECP) has denied the nomination of former Prime Minister Imran Khan to contest the upcoming 2024 parliamentary elections. The move has triggered accusations from Khan’s Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, alleging a deliberate effort by authorities to sideline its candidates in the crucial elections slated for February.
Imran Khan, a 71-year-old former cricket star currently serving a three-year prison sentence for corruption, attempted to file nomination papers despite being barred from politics for five years by the ECP. However, election officials rejected his candidacy based on his conviction and constitutional disqualification, as revealed in official documents seen by the AP. The ECP also turned down the nominations of former members of Khan’s cabinet.
The Election Commission unveiled a list of rejected nominees from Lahore, prominently featuring Imran Khan’s name. The commission cited reasons such as Khan not being a registered voter of the constituency and his conviction by a court of law as grounds for disqualifying him from nomination.
Notably, Khan’s nomination bid faced a similar fate in his hometown of Mianwali in Punjab province, according to his media team. The former prime minister, who has been out of the public eye since his incarceration in August, is grappling with a series of legal challenges.
Despite securing bail from the Supreme Court in a case related to leaking state secrets, Khan continues to confront legal battles that have plagued him since his removal from office last year. The charismatic leader, considered one of the country’s most popular, alleges a conspiracy involving Pakistan’s military and traditional parties to dismantle his political influence.
Imran Khan has accused the powerful military of colluding with established parties to undermine his party, echoing his claims that the military and the United States conspired against him after his Moscow visit preceding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. These allegations have been denied by both the Pakistani military and the U.S. government.
Amidst these developments, the ECP had previously ruled against Khan’s PTI party using its cricket bat logo in general elections. However, a recent legal victory was secured when the High Court in Peshawar suspended this order, allowing the party to proceed with its distinctive symbol.
In a broader context, the election commission’s decision extends beyond Khan, as it has rejected nomination papers from other senior members of the PTI, including vice chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi. On the flip side, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, facing legal challenges for years, secured acceptance of his nomination bid from two constituencies after a court overturned two corruption convictions. Sharif, who returned from a self-imposed exile in the UK in October, still faces a hurdle in the form of a life ban on holding public office, with a hearing scheduled for January.