Imran Khan picks Omar Ayub as PM nominee


Pakistan's jailed former premier Imran Khan has picked one of his party's leaders as nominee for prime minister, Paralel.Az reports citing BBC.

Omar Ayub Khan will run against the candidate of Imran Khan's rivals, who have agreed to a coalition.

Khan-backed independents unexpectedly won the most seats in last week's election, but they did not have enough seats to form a government.

This has led to days of deal-making as the constitution requires the formation of a government by 29 February.

A senior leader of Mr Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party, Asad Qaiser, announced Mr Ayub as his pick for PM after meeting with the former premier in prison.

Members of Pakistan's National Assembly will elect the new prime minister and 56-year-old Mr Ayub will face off against former premier, Shehbaz Sharif, the nominee of the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N).

The PML-N led by former PM Nawaz Sharif joined forces last week with Bilawal Bhutto Zardari's Pakistan People's Party (PPP).

Mr Ayub is on the run from criminal charges over riots sparked by Imran Khan's arrest in May last year. But that does not disqualify him from seeking the PM post.

If elected PM, Mr Ayub said his top priority is to free political prisoners. He won last week as an independent backed by PTI.

He is the grandson of Mohamed Ayub Khan, a military dictator and Pakistan's president from 1958 to 1969.

With the PPP's support, Mr Sharif on Wednesday put forward his brother Shehbaz as the PML-N's PM candidate.

The vote for Pakistan's next prime minister will take place after all new members of the National Assembly take their oaths, and the speaker and deputy speaker have been elected.

Independent candidates - a majority affiliated with Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) - won 93 of the 265 National Assembly seats that were contested in last Thursday's election. The PML-N won 75 seats while the PPP came third with 54 seats.

The PTI argues that its allies should have won even more votes and seats, alleging vote fraud and interference - which electoral officials have denied.

Earlier this week, a politician from the Jamaat-e-Islami party gave up his seat because he says the vote was rigged in his favour.

"We will not allow our mandate to be stolen," Mr Ayub said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

"PTI as a party will work for strengthening democratic institutions in Pakistan so that the country's economy can be put on a path of positive trajectory and we can initiate our reforms programme to benefit the people of Pakistan," he said.

Mr Ayub was first elected into the nation's National Assembly in 2002 as a candidate of the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, a breakaway party from the PML-N.

He joined PML-N in 2012, and then moved again in 2018 to join PTI. He was a minister in Khan's cabinet from 2018 until the ex-PM's ouster in April 2022. He was appointed PTI's secretary-general since 27 May 2003, shortly after Khan's arrest.