ISLAMABAD: A group of dissidents of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) headed by former vice president of the party Akbar Babar on Sunday described the ongoing intra-party elections as “illegal” and “a high-level drama”.
“The PTI’s intra-party elections have no legal, political or moral sanctity and qualify on merit as ‘the mother of all rigged elections’ even by our rigged standards,” said Mr Babar while talking to Dawn.
He alleged that the party’s Ehtesab panel, which is contesting against Imran Khan’s Insaf panel, had been formed by the PTI’s chief election commissioner (CEC), Azam Swati.
Shafqat Mehmood claims elections being held in transparent manner
“Such is the level of rigging that even the Ehtesab panel, which is opposing the Insaf panel, has been crafted by the CEC at Imran Khan’s behest to create a semblance of fair contest,” Mr Babar alleged.
He said that a full bench of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in its recent judgement in the foreign funding case had validated his membership of the PTI despite claims made to the contrary by the PTI chairman.
Legally, he said, the elections were in clear violation of the PTI’s constitution that demanded direct elections up to the union council level under an independent election commission headed by a credible CEC.
Mr Babar said the lack of transparency could be gauged from Mr Khan’s choice of the CEC. Mr Swati was accused and subsequently found guilty by a two-member inquiry committee headed by retired Gen Ali Kuli Khan of buying votes during the last intra-party elections.
“How can anyone expect fair elections under a person found guilty by the party of vote-buying in the previous elections? It is like appointing Al Capone as the head of FBR and expecting people to pay taxes,” he said.
Mr Babar “advised” Mr Khan not to waste time and precious resources of the people to “hoodwink” them into believing that the PTI was a democratic party where the workers chose their leaders. Instead, he said, Mr Khan should just declare himself a lifetime chairman.
Mr Babar, who has already filed the foreign funding case before the ECP, said he might challenge the intra-party elections at an appropriate forum.
When contacted, PTI’s information secretary Shafqat Mehmood refuted Mr Babar’s allegations, claiming that the intra-party elections were being held in a transparent manner using modern technology.
He also denied that the Ehtesab panel had been created by the party leadership itself. He said in order to prevent frivolous panels there was a condition that those contesting the elections must prove the support of at least 10 per cent of the members.
He said that as many as 2.7 million registered members of the party were using their right to vote through their mobile phones and casting their votes without any pressure.
The PTI leader said that no other party in the country had ever conducted intra-party elections in a true sense and their office-bearers were nominated by the leadership in just one or two meetings.
Responding to a question, Mr Mehmood said Mr Babar had nothing to do with the party’s affairs as he had been sacked by the leadership some six years back.
“What can I say about the ECP judgement?” Mr Mehmood said when reminded that the ECP had validated Mr Babar’s membership in its ruling.
He alleged that Mr Babar had been “planted” by the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N in order to damage the PTI.
Polling for the intra-party elections began on Saturday and would continue till Monday midnight, after which the results would be declared officially.
Published in Dawn, June 12th, 2017