Imran Khan, the former prime minister and leader of PTI, initially offered the chairmanship of the party to Hamid Khan before ultimately choosing Barrister Gohar Ali Khan. However, sources with knowledge of behind-the-scenes developments revealed that Hamid Khan declined the offer, citing concerns about his age and health.
Instead, Hamid Khan suggested Shah Mahmood Qureshi as a potential replacement for the position, but Qureshi’s candidacy was dismissed due to his imprisonment. These revelations come at a time when PTI is navigating legal challenges to avoid further complications in case its intra-party polls fail to meet the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) requirements.
The recent announcement that Imran Khan would not participate in the intra-party polls due to legal constraints led to Gohar’s nomination as an interim solution. This unprecedented move has fueled speculations about a potential ‘minus-Imran formula’ and coincides with apparent tensions within the party.
PTI’s spokesperson Shoaib Shaheen, in conversation with The Express Tribune, confirmed Imran Khan’s offer to Hamid Khan, who declined. He also dispelled any notions of discord among party leaders regarding Barrister Gohar’s nomination, emphasizing unity within the party.
Explaining the rationale for not nominating any other senior political leader as party chairman, Shoaib Shaheen stated that they do not want to convey acceptance of a “minus-one formula.”
Hamid Khan himself confirmed that he declined the chairmanship, supporting Barrister Gohar Khan’s nomination in the current political situation where leaders are either underground or imprisoned. Hamid Khan expressed hope that the President and Chief Justice of Pakistan, Qazi Faez Isa, would ensure the rule of law and the supremacy of the constitution in the country.
It is noteworthy that during the PTI government, Hamid Khan wasn’t closely associated with Imran Khan. However, following Imran Khan’s ousting through a constitutional process, Hamid Khan’s proximity to the former seemingly increased.
There’s a belief within PTI circles that PPP senior lawyer Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan shares a close relationship with Imran Khan. Barrister Gohar, Aitzaz’s junior, continues to work alongside him, prompting discussions within PTI.
Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan is perceived to be influential behind the scenes. Hamid Khan stated that Gohar was appointed to address legal impediments to the allotment of the ‘Bat’ symbol. However, Shoaib Shaheen clarified that the PTI core committee would continue its work.
Currently, lawyers play a significant role within PTI, with many seeking PTI tickets in the upcoming elections. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), Advocate Shair Afzal Marwat plays a leading role within the party. Furthermore, Salman Akram Raja, Salman Safdar, Uzair Bhandari, and others are actively involved in legal matters related to Imran Khan.