The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has taken a significant step by issuing a notice to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in response to allegations of rigged and fraudulent intra-party elections. This notice is a response to a plea filed by estranged PTI founding member Akbar S. Babar, who challenged the conduct of the elections leading to Barrister Gohar Khan replacing Imran Khan as PTI chairman.
The controversy arose when Gohar Khan was elected as the new party chairman through intra-party elections held on December 2, as directed by the ECP. Babar, along with other party members, raised objections, asserting that the PTI had implemented a selection process to sideline party workers and empower a select few individuals, specifically lawyers.
The legitimacy of the intra-party elections faced challenges not only from Akbar S. Babar but also drew criticism from leaders of mainstream parties like the PML-N and PPP. Babar, in a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner, highlighted discrepancies in the election process, including the absence of a voter list and a clear nomination mechanism.
During the proceedings at the ECP, Babar and his lawyer emphasized that the PTI failed to provide a schedule for the polls, violating the party’s constitution and electoral laws. The lawyer pointed out the lack of transparency, with no scrutiny, paperwork, or display of a list of final candidates. Babar’s plea urges the ECP to declare the PTI’s polls null and void and mandate a fresh conduct of the elections.
As the case unfolded at the ECP, Babar’s lawyer presented video evidence, showcasing the alleged irregularities during the intra-party polls. The lawyer insisted that the elections were conducted without fulfilling essential requirements and called for a forensic analysis of the video. Another petitioner, Raja Tahir Nawaz, contended that individuals in custody and those in hiding were being elected to party positions, urging the ECP to nullify the polls.
The Election Commission, intrigued by the claims, issued a notice to the PTI, seeking its response to the objections raised in the pleas. The hearing was adjourned until December 12, and a small protest outside the ECP office expressed dissatisfaction, demanding a redo of the intra-party polls.
Akbar S. Babar’s plea against the PTI’s intra-party elections emphasizes the need for transparency and adherence to electoral laws. He asserts that the PTI’s history of holding such elections necessitates independent third-party monitors for a credible review. Babar calls for the ECP to nullify the polls and ensure that the foundation of true democracy relies on transparent intra-party elections.