A day after revealing the timetable for forthcoming intra-party polls, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) declared on Friday a deferment of these polls until after the upcoming general elections, citing an “unfortunate security situation created by the administration” and concerns raised by its members.
In a protracted legal battle concluded last month, the PTI lost its electoral symbol as the Supreme Court upheld the Election Commission of Pakistan’s ruling that the party’s internal polls were “unconstitutional.” Consequently, PTI members are now contesting the elections as independents, leading to apprehensions about potential horse-trading and floor crossing. Additionally, the party no longer enjoys reserved seats for women and minorities.
In a recent attempt to regain its symbol, the PTI had announced intra-party polls during a general body meeting on Wednesday, initially scheduled for February 5. However, the meeting, slated to occur at the PTI’s Central Secretariat in Islamabad’s Sector G-8, was moved online due to reported intervention by plainclothes security officials who allegedly took control of the premises.
Administration’s alleged obstruction
Despite claims of finalized arrangements for the intra-party elections, the PTI Information Secretary, Raoof Hasan, expressed doubts about receiving relief from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). He anticipated potential challenges, such as the ECP denying the PTI its symbol or prohibiting elected independent members from joining the party due to its absence of representation in the lower house of parliament.
In a subsequent notification, the PTI clarified that internal polls were rescheduled and would occur after the general elections. The party cited the administration’s alleged obstruction of the designated meeting venue and entry points during the general body meeting on January 31 as a reason for the delay. The statement affirmed the party’s readiness for secret ballot intra-party elections through digital balloting but mentioned the need for additional time to secure alternate venues.