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ISLAMABAD: Former ruling party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has maintained that its intra-party elections have been held as per due process following the party’s constitution, and that the procedure for holding the intra-party polls has not been specified in the Elections Act 2017 or any other law.

The PTI, on these grounds, has demanded of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to dismiss the petitions challenging the PTI intra-party elections, as the ECP has reserved its verdict on the matter.

The defence side, comprising Chairman PTI Barrister Gohar Ali Khan and Barrister Ali Zafar, appeared before the ECP bench hearing the PTI intra-party elections case on Monday.

Presenting his arguments, Zafar said that no voting was required on those party positions on which the related office-bearers were elected unopposed.

“If any candidate is elected unopposed in general elections, the voting is not required on the related position. Same is the case with the party candidates who are elected unopposed on different positions,” he said.

The counsel said the petitioners who moved the ECP against intra-party elections were not members of the PTI.

Zafar once again stated that the ECP was not empowered to act as a regulator on the intra-party elections. The electoral body had no authority to hear and decide the appeals related to intra-party elections, he said, adding the PTI’s intra-party elections were held through secret ballot as per the party’s constitution.

The five-member ECP bench headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja reserved verdict on the matter.

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

Generally, intra-party elections of the political parties are regarded as 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, nullified the intra-party elections of the PTI despite earlier verbally declaring these polls as legitimate, and directed the former ruling party to hold the intra-party elections in 20 days.

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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