KARACHI: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf on Friday moved the Sindh High Court against the directive of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold intra-party election within 20 days in order to retain its electoral symbol, bat, alleging that the move was part of an effort to keep the party away from elections.

PTI’s Sindh president Haleem Adil Shaikh and retired Justice Noorul Haq N. Qureshi through their counsel Barrister Ali Tahir filed the petition, seeking directives for respondents to give level playing field to all political parties for upcoming general elections and hold free and fair polls under judicial oversight through appointment of judicial officers as district returning officers.

Citing the federation through cabinet secretary, chief secretary and ECP as respondents, the petitioners alleged a “complete connivan­­ce” between respondents indicated an effort to oust PTI from elections. They asserted the PTI faced numerous challenges, including cases against its leadership, restrictions on freedom of speech, holding conventions and assembly and demolition of houses of party’s leaders, aimed to sideline the party from participating freely in the elections and a systematic effort to curb its influence and suppress the fundamental rights of its members.

Also, the ECP on Nov 23 ruled against the PTI, warning it of losing its electoral symbol if it did not re-conduct intra-party election within a tight 20-day time frame and submit its comprehensive report within next seven days.

The petitioners submitted that they were under severe apprehension that all such was done to give the election symbol of PTI to another “favorite” party of respondents, whereas Section 215(3) of the Elections Act, 2017 said: “An election symbol already allocated to a political party shall not be allocated to any other political party or combination of political parties”.

Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2023

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