The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) issued a stern directive to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Thursday, mandating the party to conduct intra-party elections within the next 20 days. Failure to comply could result in the PTI losing its distinct bat symbol for the upcoming February 8 elections.
The ECP’s reserved verdict underscored concerns about the fairness and transparency of the party’s previous intra-party elections, labeling them as objectionable and controversial. The ECP had previously warned the PTI in August, urging it to hold intra-party polls, or face potential ineligibility to obtain an election symbol.
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Despite PTI’s claims that elections were held before an amendment in its constitution, the ECP maintained that the constitution was amended on June 8, 2022, and intra-party polls were conducted on June 10, 2022. The electoral body, in its written verdict, emphasized the need for adherence to the prevailing party constitution and set a tight deadline for compliance.
Symbol’s Fate Hangs in the Balance
Barrister Gohar Ali Khan, representing the PTI, expressed his disappointment with the ECP’s verdict, asserting that the requirements of justice were not met. The lawyer claimed that the delay in announcing the verdict served a “special purpose” and criticized the ECP for focusing on incomplete documentation rather than alleging a breach of the PTI’s constitution. Despite the setback, Barrister Khan vowed to challenge the order in relevant forums.
PTI, in its plea to the ECP, argued that the party’s August 2022 constitution withdrawal misunderstanding had been resolved, and intra-party elections were duly held on June 9, 2022, in line with the 2019 constitution. The party, facing leadership challenges with key figures in jail or having left, now confronts a critical juncture in preserving its electoral symbol.
As the PTI grapples with the ECP’s ultimatum, the political landscape remains uncertain for the party, with the potential loss of its bat symbol looming large. The intricacies of the legal battle and the party’s internal dynamics, marked by leadership challenges and ongoing legal disputes, raise questions about the party’s preparedness for the upcoming elections. PTI’s future hinges on its ability to swiftly comply with the ECP’s directives, navigate legal hurdles, and secure its symbol to maintain a formidable presence in the electoral arena.