ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Friday strongly reacted to Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) decision to withdraw its electoral symbol of “bat”, terming it “biased” and part of “famous London Plan”.

In a message on X, minutes after the ECP announced its verdict withdrawing the “bat” electoral symbol for the party, the PTI declared the decision part of the “famous London Plan” and a “disgusting and shameful attempt to stop PTI from participating in the election.”

It claimed that the party would still win the general elections, adding it would appeal the decision at every forum, asserting that its candidates would indeed contest the polls with the ‘bat’ symbol.

“Ladla Sharif cannot compete on ground… he knows he stands no chance to win when the voters are Pakistanis. This yet another part of the famous London Plan, a disgusting and shameful attempt to stop PTI from election. Insha-Allah, the bat is not dead. Long live the bat. We will inshaAllah win on 8th February,” said the PTI on a post on X, formerly twitter.

Talking to journalists, the PTI Chairman Gohar said that the party already had concerns about the ECP.

He accused the top electoral body of looking at the PTI’s case in far greater detail as opposed to those concerning other political parties.

“We conducted our elections according to the law and the Constitution. We told the ECP to tell us which section and law was violated,” he said.

The PTI chairman said that the ECP had filed a reply with the PHC and “said not one word” about which constitutional provision or section of the rules were violated,” he said.

“This is a political decision based on personal vendetta (…) this is a conspiracy. What are the elements behind this that you take the symbol from a big party and turn all its candidates into independents,” he added.

He said the conspiracy was meant to “take revenge from us” and confuse the party’s candidates and voters, adding the party would approach the high court and challenge the verdict. He also said the party had a “Plan B” but did not elaborate further.

PTI’s Taimur Khan Jhagra noted that the ECP had committed before the SC that it would meet PTI and provide a level playing field.

“Only hours later, they took away PTI’s symbol of the bat. It still won’t work. And the bat will still be back,” he said.

Lawyer Abuzar Salman Niazi, meanwhile, said that the party was without the ‘bat’ for only two to three days.

“No Court will uphold this absurd decision. It will remain a shame for ECP for all times to come,” he said.

In an intra-party elections held earlier this month on the ECP’s order, Barrister Gohar Ali Khan was elected the PTI’s new chairman.

Gohar was nominated by Imran Khan – the PTI’s founding chairman, who was currently incarcerated in Rawalpindi’s Adiala jail.

However, PTI founding member Akbar S Babar, who later developed differences with its leadership, challenged the party’s intra-party polls.

In a letter to Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, he requested that the PTI should not be allowed to use the ‘cricket bat’ as its electoral symbol until it holds transparent intra-party polls.

He also asked the commission to appoint an independent third-party monitor to conduct the PTI’s fresh intra-party polls.

Babar further contended that the PTI had not disclosed the rules and regulations of the intra-party polls; their schedule and procedure; and time for the submission of nomination papers.

On Monday, the ECP had reserved its verdict on petitions challenging the intra-party polls of PTI.

A day later on Tuesday, the commission also reserved its judgment over the allotment of the electoral symbol of the ‘cricket bat’ to the PTI.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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