Strong leader or weak party? Imran Khan’s decision to compete at 33 seats of National Assembly

Pakistan Tehreek-I-Insaf (PTI) leader and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi made an unusual decision of having Imran Khan compete at 33 seats of the National Assembly (NA) in the by-election that would take place in March 2023. The seats became evacuated when Speaker National Assembly accepted the resignations of 34 PTI members and Sheikh Rasheed of Awami Muslim League (AML).

PTI’s decision seems like a careful move as Imran Khan is the sole entity that holds popularity among the masses. No other leader in PTI has an image of a public leader, which might hurt the party in the longer run. Currently, the PTI cannot afford to lose the March 17 by-polls as already their previous stance about the cypher, foreign intervention, and conspiracy has weakened. The elections hold immense importance for the party to assure their strength in the general elections that are expected to take place in October 2023.

According to the announcement by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the by-polls will take place on March 16, 2023. The scrutiny process will begin on February 13, 2023. The revised list of candidates will be publicised on February 21, 2023. Elections will be held in the following constituencies:
NA-04 Swat
NA-17 Haripur
NA-18 Swabi
NA-25 and NA-26 Nowshera
NA-32 Kohat
NA-38 Dera Ismail Khan
NA-43 Khyber
NA-52, 53, and NA-54 Islamabad
NA-57, 59, 60, 62 and NA-63 Rawalpindi
NA-67 Jhelum
NA-97 Bhakkar
NA-126 and NA-130 Lahore
NA-155 and NA-156 Multan
NA-191 Dera Ghazi Khan
NA-241, 242. 243, 244, 247, 250, 252, 254, and NA-256 Karachi
NA-265 Quetta

Shah Mahmood Qureshi announced Imran Khan’s name as the candidate of PTI for all seats. Earlier, the PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry had made the same announcement on January 17, 2023 in his tweet. Qureshi said that people provided their support in the by-polls of July 17, 2022, and he hoped that the nation would extend their support to PTI and Imran Khan in the upcoming elections.

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