Akbar S. Babar hints at approaching ECP against PTI’s intra-party poll process

Published December 1, 2023
PTI founding member Akbar S. Babar at the party’s central secretariat in Islamabad on Friday. — DawnNewsTV
PTI founding member Akbar S. Babar at the party’s central secretariat in Islamabad on Friday. — DawnNewsTV

PTI founding member Akbar S. Babar on Friday raised reservations regarding the party’s operations related to its intra-party poll process, hinting that he would raise the issue with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

On Wednesday, the party had announced that the internal elections it was mandated to carry out as per the directives of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) would be held on December 2 (Saturday). The ECP had last week ordered the PTI to hold intra-party elections within 20 days to retain the bat as its poll symbol.

Earlier today, the party began the process of receiving nomination papers for the polls.

Babar also visited the party’s central secretariat in Islamabad along with others. Speaking to reporters, he said the purpose of his visit was to gain information about the intra-party polls, nomination papers and voter list.

“Many founding PTI members with us want to take part in this election and they want to know its procedures and that nomination papers be given to us so we can fully participate in tomorrow’s polls,” he said.

However, he later told Dawn.com that he was informed by the secretariat staff that “they do not have nomination papers, voter list and election rules”, leaving him “confused” about how he would participate in the polls.

Discussing the situation during an appearance on Dawn News show InFocus, Babar said he did not mean to make the intra-party polls controversial.

“[However], this matter has become more serious after today and their (PTI) symbol of the bat will fall into more jeopardy. Maybe it is our responsibility to present all these facts [of the irregularities] before the ECP,” he said, adding that it was “possible” he would approach the electoral watchdog himself.

“Unfortunately, this is not even an election. Have you seen any election before in which the electoral college or the voter list doesn’t even exist and where the election rules and nomination papers are not there?”

Babar said that he and some other “original genuine PTI workers” went to the PTI Secretariat and made three requests: provide nomination papers, provide the voter list and provide the election rules.

“They (secretariat staff) went silent … and told us” the aforementioned materials “do not exist”. He claimed to have been informed by the secretariat staff that the nomination process was just an “exercise on paper” to oblige to the ECP’s order.

Gohar Khan files nomination papers for top slot

Meanwhile, PTI’s Barrister Gohar Ali Khan, who was nominated for the slot of party chairman, submitted his nomination papers today.

The PTI had formally announced earlier this week that Imran would not be contesting intra-party polls due to legal problems and Gohar would contest the elections in his stead as a “stopgap arrangement”.

A statement issued on the party’s official account on X said Gohar’s nomination papers were received by Returning Officer Advocate Sardar Bharji Khan while PTI Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Advocate Niazullah Niazi was also present.

A day earlier, Babar had rejected Imran’s nomination of Gohar, calling it a “selection instead of an election”.

In a press statement, Babar said the nomination of the new PTI chairman had raised serious questions about the transparency and credibility of the entire intra-party election process. He had also proposed that the Election Commission of Pakistan appoint “observers” to monitor the polls.

Security concerns

Separately, the office of the Peshawar division commissioner sent a reminder to PTI CEC Niazi to provide the necessary information so that foolproof security could be provided on polling day.

In the letter, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, the assistant commissioner said that this was required in light of the present security environment where Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was facing a “peculiar security environment every day”.

It added that law enforcement agencies were “very particular” about security plans, especially regarding public gatherings since attacks had occurred in the past leading to significant loss of life and property.

It pointed out that no response had been received from the PTI and thus, “not even the initial work for a security plan” had been carried out. The reminder pointed out that Niazi’s response was immediately required.


Additional reporting by Ali Akbar

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