Imran Khan’s party-backed winning independent candidates join right wing Sunni Ittehad Council

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Islamabad, Feb 22: Amidst a flurry of post-election activities in Pakistan, jailed former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party-backed winning independent candidates of national and provincial assemblies officially joined the Sunni Ittehad Council to claim the share in the quota of seats reserved for women and minorities.

The independents submitted affidavits to the Election Commission on Wednesday, vowing to become part of the right-wing party dominated by Sunni Muslims.

As many as 89 Members of National Assembly (MNAs), 85 members of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, 106 members of the Punjab Assembly and nine members of the Sindh Assembly have submitted their affidavits, the Dawn newspaper reported.

However, PTI chief Barrister Gohar Khan and candidate for Prime Minister post Omar Ayub Khan did not join the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC). The PTI candidate for CM Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Ali Amin Gandapur also stayed away from the SIC.

Earlier, it was reported by some media that Gohar Khan had also joined the SIC which would hamper his chances to contest the intra-party elections of the PTI which the party was planning to hold in the coming weeks.

The PTI-backed independent candidates joined the SIC to claim a share of the reserved seats.

The development comes after the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) agreed on a power-sharing deal to form a coalition government led by former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif.

Both the PML-N and the PPP won fewer seats in Parliament than candidates backed by Imran Khan in an election mired in controversies, including vote rigging. Khan, who could not contest the February 8 elections due to his convictions in some cases including that of corruption has been barred from holding any public office for 10 years.

The PTI has said that the PML-N and PPP are going to form the government with a stolen mandate and the nation would not accept the “PDM 2.0”.

It alleged the “regime change conspiracy” was backed by the chief election commissioner by making a mockery of the Constitution and law in the country.

A party spokesperson said that a group “rejected by the nation” had gathered once again to stage a “drama” of PDM 2.0 in the country, which was unacceptable and intolerable.

He claimed that the nation had given a clear mandate to the PTI to form its government in Centre, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces despite the incarceration of PTI founding chairman Imran Khan, the snatching of the party’s election symbol “bat”, and obstacles to carry out poll campaigns.

He claimed that as per Form-45s, the citizens had given the PTI an overwhelming majority of 180 seats in the 266-member National Assembly.

“It is high time we learned a lesson from history and respected the public mandate, as Pakistan had to go through a tragedy like the fall of Dhaka as a result of daylight poll fraud,” the party’s spokesperson said.

He alleged that the heirs of those who “dismembered Pakistan” were again active in facilitating the state’s efforts to trample on the public mandate.

However, he made it clear that the people of Pakistan would not tolerate any attempt to make a mockery of the Constitution and democracy and the robbery of their votes. He vowed that PTI would resist all attempts to steal public mandate.

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