The Election Commission of Pakistan on Thursday directed the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz — a major partner of the ruling coalition — to hold intra-party elections by March 14.

A five-member ECP bench, headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja, heard a case regarding the intra-party elections of political parties.

According to Section 208 of the Elections Act, all political parties are required to elect office-bearers at the federal, provincial and local levels, wherever applicable, periodically in accordance with the Constitution of the respective political party.

“Provided that a period, not exceeding five years, shall intervene between any two elections,” a proviso to section 208(1) of the act reads.

Under the law, a political party was also required to publish the updated list of its central office-bearers and executive committee members, by whatever name called, on its website and send the list and any subsequent change in it to the election commission.

At the outset of the hearing, PML-N counsel Ahsan Jahangir informed the commission that the intra-party polls had been delayed as Shehbaz Sharif was occupied with a number of responsibilities since becoming the prime minister.

ECP member retired Justice Ikramullah Khan said that the commission had been reminding the party for a long time to hold elections.

Another member of the commission, Babar Bharwana, remarked the electoral symbol of the party would be withdrawn if elections were not held by Jan 31.

The counsel sought time till Jan 31 to ensure compliance with the commission’s order.

Jahangir said the party will do the needful and requested the commission not to withdraw the symbol of the party.

CEC Raja remarked that a person who was so busy that he could not hold intra-party elections should not be the party president.

After listening to the arguments, the ECP chief said the PML-N must hold the elections within two months.

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