By Aamir Latif
Pakistan election officials on Friday accepted the “apology” of the country’s premier-in-waiting for violating ballot secrecy in the July 25 elections, removing a key hurdle to his becoming prime minister.
Imran Khan, the former cricket star and chairman of the center-right Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, had faced a disqualification threat for stamping his ballot paper publicly – a violation of the elections rules.
Thronged by supporters and cameras, Khan appeared on multiple TV channels stamping his ballot paper in a polling station in the capital Islamabad, where he defeated former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.
Pakistan’s Election Commission accepted Khan’s “unconditional apology” in a 3-1 vote, with Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan, the chief commissioner, dissenting.
In the July 25 elections, the PTI emerged as the single largest party by securing 116 out of 272 general seats but fell short of a simple majority in the National Assembly. The party will have to seek formal support from smaller parties or independents to have Khan elected prime minister.
The PTI’s parliamentary party members last week nominated Khan as the parliamentary leader and nominee for the premiership.