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Amid Court Battles, Pakistan’s Ex-Premier Khan Steps Down From Top Party Post

Pakistan’s incarcerated former Prime Minister Imran Khan stepped down as chairman of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party amid court battles, his lawyer and a senior party official said on Wednesday.

Addressing a news conference in the capital Islamabad, Barrister Ali Zafar said that Khan’s lead lawyer, Barrister Gohar Khan will act as “caretaker chairman” of the party until the ex-premier is cleared by the court.

The PTI is set to hold its intra-party elections on Dec. 2 to elect new party leadership following a directive from the country’s top electoral authority, the Election Commission of Pakistan.

Last week, the commission ordered the PTI to hold fresh intra-party polls within the next 20 days to elect a new party chairman and other office-bearers following Khan’s disqualification in a case related to the illegal purchasing and selling of state gifts in October last year.

Islamabad High Court, however, suspended his sentence in the foreign gifts case, commonly known as the Toshakhana case, and ordered his release on bail. But Khan was arrested in another case that accused him of exposing state secrets.

“Imran Khan will not take part in these intra-party elections to avoid any legal consequences for the party in the upcoming general elections,” Zafar added.

The national vote is slated to be held on Feb. 8 next year.

Zafar said he had a meeting with Khan in jail on Tuesday, in which the latter endorsed the appointment of Barrister Khan as the party’s “caretaker” chairman.

“Let me make it clear. Our chairman is and will remain Imran Khan. I am here as a temporary arrangement with a view to avoiding the possible legal consequences,” Barrister Khan, who also attended the news conference, said.

The ex-premier, who is facing a slew of cases, has been in jail since August.

Khan, who served as prime minister of Pakistan from 2018-2022, lost a vote of confidence in parliament in April 2022, one year short of completing his term.

Source : aa