Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Friday announced he will personally contest the by-elections for nine general seats in the National Assembly that are slated to take place on Sept. 25.
The nine seats were vacated after National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf accepted the resignations of 11 PTI lawmakers—nine elected on general seats and two on reserved seats for women. After denotifying them, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced the scheduled for by-elections, with nomination papers due to be submitted by Aug. 13.
The nine constituencies being contested are NA-22 (Mardan), NA-24 (Charsadda), NA-31 (Peshawar), NA-45 (Kurram), NA-108 (Faisalabad), NA-118 (Nankana Sahib), NA-237 (Malir), NA-239 (Korangi-Karachi) and NA-246 (Karachi South). In a posting on Twitter, the PTI’s official account said the ousted prime minister had decided to contest all seats personally. “Imran Khan and awaam vs. all. Any guesses on who is going to win these battles?” it wrote.
The development was subsequently confirmed by PTI leader Chaudhry Fawad Hussain during a press conference.
Pakistan’s election laws permit candidates to contest multiple seats, with Khan having contested polls in five constituencies during the 2018 general elections. He won all five of those seats, defeating candidates of the PMLN in NA-131; NA-53; NA-95 and the MQM-Pakistan in NA-243; and the JUIF in NA-35. This is a common tactic of politicians who wish to prove their popularity among the general public, but is often criticized by observers for wasting state resources by leading to by-elections on all seats that must be subsequently vacated—the winning candidate is only permitted to retain one of their seats.
The ECP has said that all candidates for the by-elections should submit their nomination papers from Aug. 10-13; with scrutiny to be completed by Aug. 17. The last date to decide any pending appeals on the acceptance or rejection of nomination papers is Aug. 25. The ECP would then issue election symbols for approved candidates on Aug. 29, prior to the polling on Sept. 25.