Saturday, March 2, 2024

Pakistan electoral body rejects ex-premier Imran Khan’s nomination for 2024 vote

Pakistan’s election body rejected former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s nomination to contest the 2024 parliamentary elections, with the Tahreek-e Insaf (PTI) party accusing authorities of stopping most of its candidates from participating in the elections due in February.

The 71-year-old former cricket star, who is serving a three-year prison sentence for corruption, was barred from politics for five years by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). But he still filed nomination papers on Friday.

Election officials disallowed Khan’s candidacy because of his conviction and what they said was his disqualification under the Constitution, according to documents. They also rejected the candidacies of former members of his cabinet.

The ECP released a list of rejected nominees from Lahore on Saturday, which also contained Khan’s name. It said the former prime minister could not become a nominee because he is not a registered voter of the constituency and due to him being “convicted by the court of law”.

The cricketer-turned-politician’s nomination bid was also rejected in his hometown of Mianwali in Punjab province, according to his media team.

Khan has not been seen publicly since his incarceration in August in the corruption case in which he was accused of unlawfully selling state gifts while in office.

Last week, the Supreme Court granted him bail in a case alleging he leaked state secrets, but he is continuing to fight a barrage of legal cases that have dogged him since being removed from office last year.

Khan, who is widely seen as the country’s most popular leader, has alleged that Pakistan’s powerful military is colluding with traditional parties to destroy his political party and prevent him from running for office again.

The military has historically played a major role in the country’s politics and has directly ruled for decades since independence in 1947 from British rule.

The 71-year-old leader has also alleged that the Pakistani military and the United States government conspired to topple his administration after he visited Moscow just before Russia invaded Ukraine.

Washington and Pakistan’s military have denied the accusations.

However, the US-based news site The Intercept published in August what it claims to be the details of a secret diplomatic cable that suggested the US administration wanted to remove Khan from power.

The ECP had previously ruled that Khan’s PTI party cannot contest general elections using its cricket bat logo, but the High Court in the northwestern city of Peshawar earlier this week handed his team a legal victory by suspending the order.

In addition to the 71-year-old Khan, the election commission has also rejected nomination papers submitted by other senior members of his party, including vice chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

The commission, however, has accepted a nomination bid from former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from two constituencies, weeks after a court overturned two corruption convictions.

But Sharif, who also has been facing legal challenges for years and returned home in October to end a four-year self-imposed exile in the United Kingdom, still needs to remove a life ban on holding public office, a hearing for which will be held in January.

The PTI has accused the Pakistani authorities of rejecting 90 percent of nominations from its party candidates while allowing nomination papers from other parties, including Sharif’s Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

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