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ISLAMABAD: Former ruling party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has questioned the maintainability of the petitions moved in the poll body against its intra-party elections, taking the stance that the electoral entity is not empowered to decide this case, keeping in view the related order of the Peshawar High Court (PHC).

During the PTI intra-party elections case hearing on Tuesday, defence lawyer Barrister Ali Zafar said, the PTI conducted the intra-party elections on the order of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) despite serious challenges the political party currently faces.

He said the ECP is legally bound to issue the intra-party elections certificate within the stipulated seven-day period. “Today, the seven days have passed. The ECP cannot stop the issuance of the intra-party elections certificate to PTI any longer,” he maintained.

The defence lawyer said the PHC has clearly stopped the ECP from deciding this case.

Heading the five-member bench that heard this case, Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja said, the PTI did not hold intra-party elections in five years. “This is not right,” he remarked.

Another defence lawyer and PTI chief Barrister Gohar Ali Khan responded that no political party could ever hold the intra-party elections in “real terms” — the way the PTI held these polls.

“We are the only political party having the most authentic voters’ data,” he argued. The bench adjourned the case till the coming Thursday.

In an unusual move, the poll body, last Friday, issued a notice to the PTI over its intra-party polls, mainly on a petition moved by Akbar Sher Babar, a former PTI member, who was expelled from the party over 12 years ago, back in the year 2011.

The intra-party elections of the PTI were held on December 2. However, Babar challenged these polls in the electoral body, terming them as fraudulent.

Generally, intra-party elections of the political parties are regarded more of a ceremonial exercise — and the ECP mostly accepts the related certificates submitted to it by the political parties regarding completion of the party polls, a mandatory requirement under the relevant election laws.

However, in case of the PTI intra-party polls, the matter is lingering since last year when the PTI held its intra-party elections but the ECP refused to accept these polls.

In an apparent U-turn, the electoral body, on November 23, declared the intra-party elections of PTI as “highly disputed/objectionable, which could not be accepted at all,” despite earlier verbally declaring these polls as legitimate, and directed the former ruling party to hold the intra-party elections in 20 days, failing which, it would be ineligible for the electoral symbol of bat.

Prior to that, in the final hearing of the case in August, the ECP accepted PTI’s submissions related to intra-party elections. The bench members verbally conveyed their decision to the defence side that the PTI intra-party polls were valid, duly held on June 9, 2022 — and that the matter stood resolved.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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Parvez Dec 13, 2023 11:29am
ECP has again proved itself to be nothing more than PML-N's " B " team.
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