The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Thursday announced it will formally launch its election campaign for the Feb. 8 polls on Jan. 20 (Saturday), with party leaders addressing a second virtual jalsa on its social media channels before taking to the streets nationwide.
The PTI, embroiled in various legal troubles after the May 9 riots that have left a majority of its senior leadership sidelined, is trailing behind its main rivals—the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz)—who have both commenced nationwide electoral campaigns and completed the distribution of tickets for Parliament.
Among the issues facing the PTI is the withdrawal of its electoral symbol, forcing its candidates to contest the upcoming polls as independents with separate symbols in each constituency. The party has indicated it would counter this by launching a web portal that would contain a list of all its aspirants alongside their individual symbols to keep voters apprised of “official” candidates.
“The PTI will begin its full-fledged election campaign on Saturday,” PTI leader Gohar Ali Khan told media on Thursday, urging workers to tolerate hardships until Feb. 8, when he vowed the party would emerge victorious. “You are advised to focus on the election campaign,” he said, adding the party was in the final phase of completing its ticket allocation for the National Assembly and would issue a list on Friday (today).
Later, the party’s official X account confirmed it would stage a second virtual jalsa at 7 p.m. on Saturday, adding that it would be addressed by various leaders, including Gohar, Omar Ayub Khan, Raoof Hasan, Khurram Sher Zaman, Hammad Azhar, Sher Afzal Marwat, Shandana Gulzar, and Shibli Faraz.
The PTI held its first virtual jalsa on Dec. 17 and included a speech of founder Imran Khan compiled using artificial intelligence. However, the event was marred by internet disruptions, which left much of social media inaccessible in Pakistan while it was ongoing.