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All major political parties were allotted their desired election symbols as the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) began the process on Tuesday.

The PPP, with Bilawal Bhutto Zardari as its chairperson, chose to go for the sword — the symbol the party had contested elections on when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was its chief.

Meanwhile, the PPP-Parliamentarians (PPPP) whose official president is Asif Ali Zardari, was allotted the arrow — the symbol the party has been contesting elections on since the sword was removed from the symbols list after the 1977 elections.

The PPP had formed a separate entity, PPPP, in August 2002 to meet the requirements of a decree issued by Pervez Musharraf. A law was framed to bar Benazir Bhutto from holding a party office and the new political entity was a bid to avert the imminent threat of losing the chance of contesting the elections.

The party had, in 2013, contested the elections on the PPPP platform under the symbol of arrow while the PPP was allotted 'two swords'.

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Nayyar Bukhari, who represented the Bilawal-led PPP today before the ECP, explained that the party was formed in 1967 and had contested the 1970 election on the 'sword' symbol. However, after Gen Ziaul Haq imposed martial law, the symbol was removed entirely from the ECP's list. He argued that seeking the symbol was the right of the PPP.

Safdar Abbasi — who broke off from the PPP after the death of Benazir Bhutto — however, argued that the PPP was only blocking the symbol so that no other party could use it and would contest the election on the traditional arrow symbol.

He said that the 'sword' should therefore be allotted to his party — the PPP-Workers. The Peoples Movement of Pakistan also applied for the symbol but the ECP eventually decided in the PPP's favour.

The PPPP spokesperson later clarified that the party would contest the upcoming elections on the arrow symbol in continuation with recent elections.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) was allotted the 'kite' symbol after both Amir Khan and Farooq Sattar appeared before the ECP and said that their internal conflict has nothing to do with the election symbol which should be allotted to the party.

The PML-Q, on the other hand, withdrew its bid for the 'cycle' it has contested previous elections on and instead chose to opt for the 'tractor'. Although the Pakistan Kissan Ittehad was also in the running for the symbol, it was allotted to PML-Q. The Ittehad had to be content with the 'plough'.

A total of 70 parties who do not have a conflict with any other party are entitled to their own symbol, the ECP had announced.

The PML-N, therefore, would contest the election on its traditional 'lion' symbol while the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) would have the 'bat'.

The Jamaat-i-Islami will use the 'scales', whereas the Awami National Party (ANP) will contest the election with the 'lantern' symbol. Sheikh Rasheed's Awami Muslim League will use the 'pen'.

According to the ECP, a party has the right to seek allocation of the same symbol given to it in a previous election.

A political party is given preference for a particular symbol if the symbol was allocated to it in a previous election before entering into an alliance with other parties.

In case the same symbol was allocated to an alliance of parties in the last election, and two or more component parties apply for the same symbol for the next election, the allocation of that symbol to any one party is done by drawing of lots.

Additional reporting by Nadir Guramani.