ISLAMABAD: In a bid to grab the seats reserved for women and minorities, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Monday declared that the party-backed winning candidates in Feb 8 elections would join the minority Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) in the National Assembly as well as in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Speaking at a presser, PTI chairman Gohar Ali Khan and PTI secretary general Omar Ayub along with chairman Sunni Ittehad Council Sahibzada Hamid Raza and Majlis Wahdat ul Muslimeen (MWM) chief Allama Raja Nasir Abbas, said that discussions were held on prospects of closer cooperation in parliament and at the provincial level.

The party, which could not directly take part in elections due to the non-allotment of electoral symbol, wants its share of reserved seats for women and minorities by using the platform of other like-minded parties.

Barrister Gohar said the PTI-backed independent candidates are required to join any party within three days following the issuance of notification under the law.

“We are officially announcing that our independent candidates will join the SIC in the National Assembly and provincial assemblies of Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) in order to claim our share of reserved seats,” he declared.

He said that the decision to join Sunni Ittehad Council has been taken with consensus and demanded the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to allot the PTI reserved seats in line with the law.

Gohar said his party would formally apply for its share of reserved seats after independent candidates backed by it join the SIC.

“We have an agreement signed with our partner SIC and this merger is done to win our reserved seats. We will apply to the Election Commission and demand that our share of reserved seats should be given to us,” he added.

The PTI chairman said that his party-backed elected members had fulfilled ECP’s requirement to join a political party within three days of their notification.

“Affidavits from all candidates have been collected and will be submitted to the ECP today [Monday],” he added.

Gohar reiterated the PTI would form a government in the center as well as Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces.

“We will also work for the release of our leadership and workers which is our next target,” he added.

The PTI leader also reiterated the rigging allegation claiming that his party had won 180 NA seats in the February 8 polls.

Speaking on the occasion, Sahibzada Hamid Raza said that the decision to forge an alliance with the PTI has been taken with the permission of incarcerated former prime minister Imran Khan.

He said his party does not believe in the politics of hatred. “All sects are standing with the PTI,” Raza added.

He said that his party had entered into an “unconditional alliance” with the PTI, wherein, all decisions will be made by Khan’s party.

“We have been their ally for the last 8 years and supported each other as we did now by providing our platform so that the PTI can get their share in reserved seats,” he said.

“A formal agreement was signed between the two parties after formal consultations,” he added.

PTI’s PM candidate Omar Ayub asserted that his party will form the government in the Centre.

“Our first task will be to ensure the release of PTI founder Imran Khan and Bushra Bibi after forming the government,” he added.

He said that PTI wants unity in the country and therefore party-backed candidates have decided to join the SIC in the Centre and all provinces.

“This is because the quota of reserved seats lies with political parties. Coming together with the SIC would increase the PTI’s strength in the National Assembly,” he said.

Recalling the explosive rigging allegations of the former Rawalpindi commissioner, Ayub said the PTI had demanded that party-supported candidates should be declared “returned candidates”.

“We had also said that the MQM-P stole PTI’s mandate in Karachi and Hyderabad,” he claimed, adding that a similar case also persisted in Peshawar.

Ayub added that after joining the SIC, the PTI would form governments. “Our first job would be to set free Imran Khan, Bushra Bibi, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Parvez Elahi, and all our senior leadership,” he vowed.

He also lauded and thanked the MWM for the support it has provided to the Imran Khan-led party.

MWM chief Raja Nasir Abbas lauded PTI’s decision to align with SIC. He assured the party that MWM would stand shoulder-to-shoulder with PTI, emphasizing their joint struggle for the nation’s uplift.

He decried the alleged rigging on February 8, stressing the need for electoral transparency and adherence to constitutional norms.

He called for a fair electoral process devoid of manipulation, underscoring the importance of democracy in steering the country towards prosperity.

Later in the evening, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Pakistan (JUI-P) also announced that the party is joining hands with the PTI for “political stability”.

Speaking at a presser along with Barrister Gohar, and Asad Qaiser of PTI, JUI-P senior leader Maulana Gul Nasib Khan said that “I am indebted to PTI for taking JUI-P into confidence in the current scenario and opting for an alliance for the way forward”.

Gohar Khan said both the parties had affirmed to continue contacts, adding “we all agree that this country is ours, democracy should continue moving forward […] and we will take a step forward to improve the economy.”

He said that both the parties agreed to continue the struggle against alleged rigging in the Feb 8 polls.

PTI leader Asad Qaiser has said his party is in touch with the Grand Democratic Alliance and Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party for alliance.

“God willing we will go to Quetta and Karachi in the coming day […] we will not allow anyone to take any decisions behind closed doors, these decisions need to be taken as per the law and Constitution,” he added.

Qaiser claimed that his party has won the public’s mandate and is the largest political force in the country. “Any other government that comes will be fake and would not be able to solve Pakistan’s problems,” he added.

The PTI leader further hoped that his party’s grievances would be heard in courts.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024


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