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ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday reserved its verdict on a petition challenging the intra-party elections held by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).

Yusuf Ali, former general secretary of the party’s Swabi chapter, had filed the petition before the ECP, asking it to declare null and void the party elections after office-bearers were re-elected in June. His plea was based on the fact that the polling process violated the party’s constitution.

The petitioner’s lawyer informed the commission that the party had held ‘dummy’ intra-party polls in violation of the party constitution. He claimed the constitution had been amended on May 13 — a month before intra-party polls took place on June 12.

The petitioner said that the PTI had not completed the necessary legal formalities in amending the constitution, and pointed out that the constitution could only be altered by the party’s central executive council with two-thirds majority.

He said that under the controversial amendment, registered voters had been restricted to vote for one of two panels, one of which was led by Imran Khan. The party had re-drafted the constitution and developed software for the intra-party poll, whereby anything written instead of a binary 1 or 2 option would entail the rejection of the vote.

As per the amended constitution, 2.7 million voters had to decide between PTI chairman Imran Khan or party leader Naik Mohammad Khan. No party member was allowed to choose anyone apart the two panels — Insaf panel and Ehtesaab — each with 14 members.

Advocate Babar Awan, who appeared as counsel for the respondent, argued that the petition could not be heard by the ECP as intra-party elections cannot be challenged through an election petition. “The petitioner has nothing to do with the PTI’s intra-party elections,” Mr Awan said, claiming that the elections were held in a transparent manner.

After hearing arguments from both the sides, the commission reserved its judgement, which will be announced on Nov 28.

Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2017