Imran Khan's party elects new chairman ahead of Pakistan's election

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One of ousted Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan's lawyers was elected on Saturday as chairman of his party, allowing it to take part in a national vote scheduled for February as the former cricketer is in jail and barred from taking part.

Barrister Gohar Ali Khan had been nominated by Khan himself to be the chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI).

The Election Commission of Pakistan had directed PTI to hold the party poll for a new chairman if it wanted to participate in the election on February 8 and retain its bat election symbol.

The PTI will face former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's party as its main opponent. But the barrister chosen on Saturday will not necessarily become the prime minister, should the party win.

Another of Khan's lawyers, barrister Ali Zafar, said that choosing Gohar Ali Khan as replacement was just a babysitting arrangement for the party.

The 71-year-old former cricket star has been embroiled in a tangle of political and legal battles since he was ousted as prime minister in April 2022. He has not been seen in public since he was jailed for three years in August for unlawfully selling state gifts while in office from 2018 to 2022.

He is also on trial in an official secrets case along with his party's vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi. Khan has denied all the charges against him, as has Qureshi, a former foreign minister.

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