ISLAMABAD: Estranged Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Naheed Khan approached the Supreme Court on Monday with a plea to overturn the Islamabad High Court’s Feb 6 rejection of her petition seeking PPP’s title for her own political party.
“The petitioner feels helpless, humiliated and frustrated when the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), against all norms of justice, equity and fair play allotted the name of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) to the same person who also heads another party namely the Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians,” pleaded Naheed Khan — a close confidante and political adviser to the late prime minister Benazir Bhutto
Ms Khan had earlier filed a petition with the ECP to declare the 2013 general elections illegal and to seek the PPP’s title for her own party. The ECP had dismissed her plea after which she had approached the IHC in May 2013.
While the petition was pending with the IHC, Ms Khan formed a political party called PPP Workers and registered it with the ECP under the Political Parties Order 2002.
In her latest petition before the apex court, moved by senior counsel Iftikhar Gillani, Ms Khan pleaded that the high court had rejected her petition erroneously in a discriminatory manner.
She recalled that former prime minister Benazir Bhutto had awarded her a ticket to contest the National Assembly seat from NA-38 Rawalpindi-III. In 2002, electoral laws were amended and since the PPP was not listed with the ECP, it was not allowed to contest the election. Subsequently, PPP leaders established another political party called PPP-Parliamentarians on March 4, 2013.
Five years after Ms Bhutto’s assassination, the party faced a vacuum of leadership as its politics was confined to a few families and affluent households, she claimed. A majority of party workers, who enjoyed considerable influence within the party and were associated with Ms Bhutto, were set aside by former president Asif Ali Zardari, she added.
She highlighted how she and her husband — former senator Dr Safdar Abbasi — as well as other political workers had faced immense hardship after Ms Bhutto’s assassination.
While Mr Zardari was president, the petition recalled, a writ petition and a contempt of court application were filed in the Lahore High Court against then president Zardari, requesting that he be restrained from the dual responsibilities of holding the office of president and participating in political activities as co-chairperson of the PPP.
Back then, Mr Zardari’s counsel had contended that the PPP was not a political party but could, at best, be described as an association which may be formed by any person under Article 17 of the Constitution. Ms Khan’s petition claimed that this stance had not only negated the political struggle of PPP’s diehard workers but was also disrespectful to the memory of its founding members and its martyrs.
She contended that in its order, the IHC had failed to take into account the ECP’s mistake of assuming without evidence that since Ms Khan was a member of the PPP-P, her request to form a party could not be processed under Article 5 (3) of the Political Parties Order 2002.
Such a finding was not only against the law but also against facts, pleaded Ms Khan, who added that the petitioner had never been a member of the PPP-P and that the IHC had erred in making this factual determination against her.
She said that as per the ECP’s records, there was no political party registered under the title of PPP when she had applied for assuming the name and style of the PPP on March 4, 2013, after complying with all legal formalities and requirements of the ECP.
Published in Dawn, March 21st, 2017