A day after announcing the schedule for fresh intra-party polls, the PTI said on Friday that it had decided to postpone them until after the upcoming general elections over the “unfortunate security situation created by the administration” and concerns expressed by members.

After a long battle and marathon hearings last month, the PTI was stripped of its symbol when the Supreme Court upheld the Election Commission of Pakistan’s decision to declare the party’s internal polls as “unconstitutional”.

As a result, the party’s members are now contesting the elections as independent candidates with different electoral symbols, which has raised fears of horse-trading and floor crossing. The PTI also no longer has the right to reserved seats for women and minorities.

In another bid to reclaim its symbol, the PTI had decided to hold intra-party polls on Feb 5 during its general body meeting on Wednesday.

The meeting, which was supposed to take place at PTI’s Central Secretariat in Islamabad’s Sector G-8, was shifted online after police and security officials in plainclothes allegedly raided and took control of the premises and stopped members from entering, party sources had told Dawn.

An official of the capital police had denied the allegation, pointing out that a raid could not be conducted without having permission from a magistrate and no such order was issued that day.

A day earlier, PTI information secretary Raoof Hasan told Dawn that all arrangements had been finalised for the intra-party elections.

“We have opened a portal on the website…and only registered members will be allowed to contest elections. Candidates can get nomination papers from offices across the country or can download them from the website,” he said.

Hasan added that they would submit the result to the ECP, but they were not hoping for any relief from the watchdog. He feared the ECP may not allot the PTI its symbol or say that the elected independent members would not be allowed to join the party since it did not have lawmakers in the lower house of parliament.

Meanwhile, former ECP secretary Kanwar Dilshad told Dawn that the election wat­chdog would be the final decision-making authority in this regard.

However, in a notification issued today, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, the PTI said its internal polls were being rescheduled and would now take place after the date for the general elections.

“At the time of holding the general body meeting of the PTI on Jan 31, the designated venue of the party where the meetings were set to take place and the entry of participants were unlawfully blocked by the administration, including sealing of the Islamabad office, thus forcing us to search for and confirm alternate places and seek legal remedies,” it said.

“While we are ready for holding intra-party elections on the basis of secret ballot through digital balloting, the arrangements for availability of alternate venues requires additional time,” the statement, issued by Hasan, said.

It added that the party also received requests by its members that they were unable to find time to participate in the internal elections due to preparations for the Feb 8 polls.

“Taking cognisance of the security situation created by the administration and the views expressed by some of our members, the holding of intra-party elections needs to be rescheduled.

“They will now take place after the national elections on a date within the mandate and timeframe approved by the general body meeting. The amended schedule will be duly announced by the office of the federal election commission shortly,” the PTI said.

It concluded that federal and provincial offices of the party would continue to receive nomination forms till 10pm tonight and urged members to complete all formalities before that.

Akbar S. Babar proposes formation of committee to ‘restructure’ PTI

PTI founding member Akbar S. Babar has suggested the formation of three-member committees, one from his side and the other from former premier Imran Khan’s side, to prepare a roadmap for restructuring the party.

 PTI founding member Akbar S. Babar addresses a press conference in Islamabad on Friday. — Screengrab
PTI founding member Akbar S. Babar addresses a press conference in Islamabad on Friday. — Screengrab

During a press conference in Islamabad, Babar said, “I would form a similar committee, and the two bodies could draft terms of reference (ToRs) to proceed with the talks.”

“Holding transparent intra-party elections will be at the top of the list, followed by bringing transparency to the party and making efforts to guide the youth in the right direction,” he said.

“It is unfortunate to note that false information sells on social media. In the upcoming social media age, the PTI should never tolerate it. We have to bring ethics to politics,” Babar added.

He stated the PTI had been proven wrong on three fronts while facing him legally, including the foreign funding case, his membership saga, and intra-party elections.

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