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Imran Khan removed as head of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, the party he founded

Imran Khan, former Pakistan Prime Minister, has been removed as the head of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party while facing legal challenges. Khan, currently in jail and barred from participating in party polls, was replaced by Gohar Khan

Imran Khan removed as head of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, the party he founded
First Published Dec 2, 2023, 4:35 PM IST

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, currently incarcerated and facing various charges he deems politically motivated, has been ousted as the leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. The party, founded by Khan in 1996, experienced rapid growth, becoming the largest bloc in the National Assembly after the 2018 elections. Khan's removal from office occurred through a vote of no confidence led by longstanding political rivals.

Despite facing multiple legal cases, including allegations of leaking state documents, Khan was a significant figure in Pakistani politics. In his absence, Gohar Khan, a barrister unrelated to Imran, has taken over as the party chairman. The change was prompted by a warning from the Election Commission of Pakistan, urging PTI to conduct an internal ballot to retain its election symbol -- a cricket bat, crucial in a country with a literacy rate of just 58 per cent.

Khan, a former international cricketer who led Pakistan to a World Cup victory in 1992, was barred from participating in the party poll due to his imprisonment. While the leadership change is presented as temporary, PTI is grappling with a broader crackdown, with key members either imprisoned or leaving the party. 

The political landscape in Pakistan often involves legal proceedings, perceived by rights monitors as influenced by the powerful military, which has had a significant role in the nation's history.

Analysts suggest that despite the leadership shift, Imran Khan continues to hold sway as the moral leader of PTI. Meanwhile, a hearing into a graft case involving Khan was adjourned on Saturday, with his lawyers protesting media restrictions in the trial despite an earlier order to keep proceedings open.

Nawaz Sharif, a three-time prime minister, had a corruption conviction overturned by a court on Wednesday. Returning from self-imposed exile in October to reenter politics, Sharif is currently on bail, appealing multiple corruption convictions in preparation for the upcoming February elections. His younger brother, Shehbaz Sharif, assumed power in the coalition that ousted Khan.

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