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ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) withdrew its contempt petition against the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the Punjab IGP for violating the Supreme Court’s order passed on level-playing field for the party in the general elections 2024.

A three-member of apex court bench, headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, and comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Musarrat Hilali heard the PTI’s contempt petition.

In the last hearing, the bench had issued notices to the Chief Secretary and IGP of the Punjab. They were directed to submit the report with regard to the directions issued by the election commissioner, Punjab.

Director General (Law) ECP said they were doing everything to ensure free and fair elections. Latif Khosa was unable to provide the specific allegations, but only referred to the letter of election commissioner, Punjab.

During the proceedings, Justice Hilali inquired from Sardar Latif Khosa, who represented the PTI, about the news of PTI’s alliance with another party. Khosa said the PTI was not even being allowed to forge an alliance with any other party.

“We came to the apex court seeking a level-playing field, but the [SC’s] decision has shattered the party by taking away its electoral symbol, with it, depriving the party of 230 seats across the country,” said Khosa.

Justice Hilali further asked the counsel that “you are saying that the ECP was targeting only the PTI and not any other party.” Khosa then said the Election Commission has returned the Awami National Party (ANP) its electoral symbol but revoked the PTI’s election symbol.

Upon that, the chief justice told Khosa that the ANP was returned the symbol because, as per the party’s constitution, it had time to hold intra-party polls. He then asked the counsel to clearly state whether his party wished to pursue the case further, or not.

Khosa replied that the Supreme Court’s January 13 verdict took the PTI’s field away. He contended that the Commission can only withdraw electoral symbols, but in the PTI’s case an entire party is being banned from the parliament.

To Justice Hilali’s question about having doubts on the transparency of the upcoming polls, the PTI’s lawyer remarked that the elections were “totally unfair”. Khosa stated that the court’s verdict would destroy democracy.

CJP Isa admonished Khosa and said not to burden the court with the past judgments, adding the PTI was repeatedly asked to prove the intra-party elections which it failed to do. “There is nothing we can do if the PTI does not like the court’s order,” said CJP Isa.

The chief justice stated that the Supreme Court-passed relevant orders regarding ensuring a level-playing field was provided to the party, mentioning that the police personnel involved in the raid at PTI Chairman Gohar Ali Khan’s residence have been suspended.

“On the PTI’s request, the court raised the matter of elections and fixed the polling date within 12 days,” said the chief justice.

“Our job is to conduct elections as per the law, not become the government,” CJP Isa remarked. He added that if the PTI had any objection regarding any other political party then it should bring forth a petition.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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