ISLAMABAD: While Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has been demanding a level playing field for upcoming general elections, one of the party’s “founding members” has started efforts for free and transparent intra-party elections so that workers and leaders of the party would get equal opportunities.

Akbar S. Babar has been part of the PTI since the party’s inception and was once considered very close to Imran Khan. However, he took the foreign funding case to the ECP on Nov 14, 2014, after he developed differences with the PTI chief over alleged corruption and abuse of laws governing political funding.

“In 1997, the PTI had an election symbol of chirag [lamp] and I was the one who suggested to Imran Khan that the party symbol should be a cricket bat because it went with his image. I was the one who submitted documents/application with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to get the electoral symbol in August 2002 and I have all relevant documents,” Akbar S. Babar told Dawn.

“I urge the devoted workers of PTI to come forward for the transparent elections within the party because only after holding free and fair intra-party elections, can the party demand free and fair general elections,” he said.

In a statement, Mr Babar advised party workers to come forward for the fair elections as per directions of the ECP within the next 20 days.

“If transparent elections would not be held it will become difficult to retain the symbol of bat for upcoming elections,” he warned. He said that workers should come forward to save the party from complete disaster and start a countrywide contact campaign, which has been announced by Mr Babar.

He also said that the workers should play their role to stop another attempt to hijack the party. He said that soon central and provincial election commissions of the PTI would be established.

He also stressed that the PTI’s election commission should announce the intra-party elections at the earliest and voter lists should also be issued at national, provincial, and district levels. Mr Babar said that corrupt and incompetent leadership was the reason for so much loss to the party.

Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2023

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