ECP annuls PTI intra-party polls, strips party of bat symbol

PTI bat symbol

ISLAMABAD: In a decisive move, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) opted against allowing the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to retain its iconic ‘bat’ electoral symbol for the upcoming February 8 general election.

The reserved verdict was delivered in response to the Peshawar High Court’s directive that had urged the electoral watchdog to address the matter of PTI’s intra-party polls and electoral symbol promptly “in accordance with the law.”

According to the ECP, the PTI failed to conduct intra-party elections and they were unlawful.

“PTI has not complied with our directions […] and failed to hold intra-party election in accordance with PTI prevailing Constitution, 2019, and Election Act, 2017, and Election Rules, 2017,” the order read.

This development unfolded shortly after a meeting between the PTI leaders and the commission, prompted by a Supreme Court order instructing the ECP to address the party’s concerns regarding an alleged lack of a level playing field in the lead-up to the polls.

Earlier in the week, a five-member ECP bench, led by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja, had reserved judgment on the matter concerning the allocation of the bat as the PTI’s electoral symbol.

In an unprecedented move, the ECP had taken note of the PTI’s intra-party elections, which saw Barrister Gohar Ali elected as the party’s new chairman, nominated by PTI chief Imran Khan.

The polls, conducted on December 3, transpired after the ECP declared null and void the intra-party polls held in June 2022. The ECP had given the PTI a 20-day ultimatum to conduct fresh elections, failing which the party risked losing eligibility for the coveted electoral symbol.

The PTI faced substantial criticism over the polls, particularly from estranged founding member Akbar S. Babar. Babar had challenged the entire process, alleging that the PTI orchestrated a selection process to exclude party workers and consolidate power among a select group of lawyers.

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