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Imran Khan's Party-Backed Winning Independent Candidates Join Rightwing Sunni Ittehad Council

The 71-year-old former-cricketer-turned-politician's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party could not directly take part in elections due to the non-allotment of its iconic electoral symbol - the cricket bat.

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Former Pakistan PM and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan Photo: File Image
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Winning independent candidates backed by jailed former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan's party have officially joined the rightwing Sunni Ittehad Council, a media report said on Thursday.

The 71-year-old former-cricketer-turned-politician's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party could not directly take part in elections due to the non-allotment of its iconic electoral symbol - the cricket bat.

To receive its share of reserved seats for women and minorities by using the platform of other like-minded parties, the PTI party on Monday made a "formal agreement" to join the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) - an alliance of Islamic political and religious parties in the Muslim-majority country which represents followers of the school of Sunni Islam.

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Almost all PTI-backed independently elected candidates of national and provincial assemblies submitted affidavits to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday, officially joining the SIC, the Dawn newspaper reported.

The submission of the affidavits by the PTI-supported 89 Members of the National Assembly to the electoral watchdog backs the party's claim that it managed to win 93 National Assembly seats in the February 8 elections.

Three party leaders, including Barrister Gohar Khan, Omar Ayub Khan - PTI's candidate for the prime minister's post - and Ali Amin Gandapur, did not submit affidavits, while the notification of another candidate was yet to be issued by the ECP.

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Ayub and Gohar deliberately refrained from filing affidavits to become SIC members as they plan to contest the party's fresh organisational elections, reportedly scheduled to be held in a fortnight.

Barrister Gohar has been nominated as the chairman, while Raoof Hassan will be the Chief Election Commissioner for PTI's intra-party polls, media reports said on Wednesday. 

Gandapur, too, did not file the affidavit, as he has been nominated as the PTI’s candidate for the post of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister, the report said.

Late on Tuesday, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) struck a power-sharing deal to form a coalition government led by ex-prime minister Shehbaz Sharif. The coalition could effectively keep their arch-rival Khan out of power after the controversial elections marred by rigging allegations.

Khan's party has rejected the attempts by the PMLN and the PPP to form a coalition government, warning that robbing its public endorsement by the "mandate thieves" will result in the worst political instability.

Though independent candidates backed by the party won the maximum number of seats in Parliament, the PMLN and the PPP have announced that they will form a coalition government after the elections resulted in a hung Parliament.

Independent candidates - a majority backed by the PTI party -- won 93 National Assembly seats.

The PML-N won 75 seats, while the PPP came third with 54 seats. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P) has 17 seats.

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