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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

PTI navigates nomination challenges with social media’s help

Under the representation of lawyer Shoaib Shaheen, PTI promptly filed a constitutional petition in the Supreme Court (SC), seeking a 'level-playing field' in the elections.

The social media strategy employed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) proved instrumental in facilitating the successful submission of nomination papers by party candidates for the upcoming general elections. Despite initial resistance during the nomination process, PTI candidates effectively leveraged social media platforms on December 20. Supporters shared instances of harassment against party candidates, prompting PTI’s new chairman, Barrister Gohar Khan, to take legal action.

Under the representation of lawyer Shoaib Shaheen, PTI promptly filed a constitutional petition in the Supreme Court (SC), seeking a ‘level-playing field’ in the elections. Remarkably, the petition received an expedited hearing a day after submission. During the hearing, the bench, led by acting Chief Justice of Pakistan Sardar Tariq Masood, questioned the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for not ensuring a fair playing field for PTI.

Read more: PTI to approach SC or PHC for Bat Symbol

As a result, a written order was issued, directing the ECP to address PTI candidates’ grievances and ensure a fair electoral environment. Simultaneously, the bench granted bail to both PTI’s founding chairman Imran Khan and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the cypher case. Justice Athar Minallah emphasized that their release on bail during the election period would ensure “genuine elections” and allow people to express their will effectively.

The apex court, now under the leadership of Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, is committed to upholding the institution’s image and avoiding accusations of political engineering, as seen in the 2018 general elections. Following the SC hearing, PTI also received relief from the Lahore High Court (LHC), enabling its candidates to successfully submit their nomination papers.

PTI lawyer Abuzar Salman Niazi, expressing gratitude for Justice Ali Baqar Najfi’s intervention, announced on social media that, “By the grace of Allah and the active intervention of Justice Ali Baqar Najfi, we were able to file almost 90 percent of nomination cases.” Despite hurdles from the Punjab police, Niazi assured those unable to file nomination papers that appropriate action would be taken.

Read more: PTI Faces Obstacles: Alleged Harassment and Challenges During Nomination Process

Even detained PTI lawyer Hassaan Niazi, accused in the May 9 incidents involving an attack on military installations, received a directive from the LHC to sign his nomination papers.

However, questions arise about why PTI candidates secured relief from the LHC, with one lawyer emphasizing the fundamental right of every citizen to submit nomination papers for elections.

Looking ahead, the scrutiny of nomination papers will play a crucial role. Returning Officers (ROs) will continue scrutiny until December 30, followed by the filing of appeals, if any, against the ROs’ decisions before the appellate tribunals. The PTI candidates anticipate challenges to their nomination papers, particularly concerning revenue and tax records, and disputes arising from these elections will likely be adjudicated in superior courts, with the SC’s role remaining significant for the PTI.