PTI, ECP both found at fault

Published December 24, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Leadership of the embattled PTI on Saturday announced a fightback against the ECP’s decision of depriving it of its iconic electoral symbol ‘bat’.

However, experts have criticised both the poll watchdog as well as the former ruling party for what they called their contradictory behaviour.

On Friday, the ECP voided the PTI’s intra-party elections for a second time following strict examination of the polls process, and declared that PTI was ineligible to get an election symbol to contest the Feb 8 elections.

The PTI currently remains a registered party but there is no name in the section of president/chairman of the party at the ECP’s website. In the past, a similar situation was faced by the PML-N and all its candidates had to contest the Senate elections as independents.

Talking to media in Rawalpindi, Barrister Gohar Ali Khan, the erstwhile chairman of PTI, termed the ECP’s decision self-contradictory. He said the certified copy of the ECP’s verdict is likely to be made available on Tuesday and they would challenge it in the Supre­­me Court the same day.

On the other hand, Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency head Ahmed Bilal Mehboob said PTI should have been more careful about its intra-party polls. “At the same time we have seen the election commission has been soft over many other things,” he added.

He told Dawn the PTI had the best detailed description for holding the intra-party elections and that procedure was followed in 2012. “That excellent democratic process was not witnessed again, possibly the PTI too tried to copy the procedures of other parties,” he opined, adding, “But there is a difference as the constitutions of other parties do not have such detailed description of conducting the intra-party elections.”

Mr Mehboob said PTI’s elections were due in 2021, but because of Covid-19 lockdowns they were held in June 2022.

“PTI was not careful at that time too and the procedures listed in their constitution were not followed. Later, when the ECP directed it to hold the elections within 20 days the PTI should have been more careful as far as following its own constitution was concerned,” he added.

The Pildat chief also found fault with ECP’s working. He said the watchdog has not been treating all parties even-handedly. “ECP should have taken action when Senator Bugti was inducted into the caretaker cabinet because he was BAP member of the upper house,” he pointed out. “He was holding such an important portfolio and just as the elections are approaching he has joined another party; this should not be allowed.”

ECP at fault?

The ECP appears to be ignoring violations by other parties too as the Senate’s website has listed the name of Prof Sajid Mir, at serial No. 67, showing his party affiliation with PML-N. At the same time, his name is shown as president of the Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadis in the registered political parties list.

To a query about this duplication, a senior leader of PML-N said it was because Prof Mir has political alliance with PML-N.

Similarly, the banned Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat is registered as “Pakistan Rah-i-Haq Party” and ASWJ leader Allama Ahmed Ludhianvi had been contesting elections from the platform of Rah-i-Haq Party.

Shoaib Shaheen Advo­cate of PTI told Dawn, “We still have time up to Jan 13 as the list of candidates will be finalised on that date.”

If PTI contenders have to contest polls as independents, another blow to the party would be the loss of seats reserved for women and non-Muslims, as these reserved slots are awarded only to the political parties.

Published in Dawn, December 24th, 2023

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