ECP to Decide on PTI Election Symbol and Intra-Party Polls Today

Fri Dec 22 2023
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ISLAMABAD: Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will make a decision on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) election symbol and recently-held intra-party polls today (Friday).

The decision comes a day after Peshawar High Court (PHC) directed the ECP in this regard.

During the intra-party elections held in December, Barrister Gohar Ali Khan emerged as the newly elected chairman of the party, nominated by the incarcerated Imran Khan. The PHC’s two-member bench heard the case related to PTI’s intra-party elections and the election symbol on Thursday and gave clear orders to ECP.

In the recent hearing, Justice Shakeel Ahmed questioned PTI Chairman Barrister Gohar about why they hadn’t filed a case in the Islamabad High Court. Barrister Gohar explained that the elections took place in Peshawar, and the federation allowed them to file a petition there. He emphasized that the ECP could make the decision on the case anywhere.

After the hearing, Gohar expressed hope that PTI, with a 70 percent approval rating, would not be excluded from the elections. He underlined that such an exclusion would raise questions about the credibility of the polls and stressed that the responsibility for safeguarding rights lies with the judiciary.

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On Monday, the ECP had reserved its verdict on petitions challenging PTI’s intra-party polls. PTI counsel Barrister Ali Zafar argued that the tenure of a party’s chairman is five years, and intra-party elections are unnecessary when the chairman is elected unopposed.

The ECP member argued that while party constitutions lack clarity on the procedures for intra-party polls, the Elections Act does specify who qualifies as a member. He also highlighted that the ECP had previously ruled that only party members could cast votes in intra-party elections.

PTI founding member Akbar S Babar, who had differences with its leadership, challenged the intra-party polls, urging the ECP not to allow PTI to use the ‘cricket bat’ as its electoral symbol until transparent intra-party polls are held. Babar also requested the appointment of an independent third-party monitor for the fresh intra-party polls, labelling the recent election process as “pretence and deception.” He contended that the fraudulent election process deprived PTI members of their right to vote.

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