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ISLAMABAD: Yet again, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has sought details from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) of its third intra-party elections held in less than two years.

Chairman PTI Barrister Gohar Ali Khan and the party’s Chief Election Commissioner Raoof Hasan appeared before the five-member ECP full bench headed by CEC Sikandar Sultan Raja in connection with PTI intra-party elections case hearing on Tuesday.

In his arguments, the PTI chief maintained that his political party submitted all the relevant details of its intra-party elections to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) last month. He stated that the PTI’s intra-party elections were duly held in accordance with the law and all requirements were fulfilled keeping in view the previous orders of the ECP and the Supreme Court.

ECP’s Director General Political Finance Masood Akhtar Sherwanee said the apex court raised objections in its decision related to PTI intra-party elections, adding that the PTI’s clarification to these objections was required to be furnished.

The ECP bench then directed the defence side to submit the relevant details by the next hearing and adjourned the case.

“There are 175 political parties in Pakistan. Of these parties, no party has held open, transparent and constitutional intra-party elections the way PTI has,” the chairman PTI told the media after the case hearing.

Three things were kept in view; two previous orders of the ECP, and an order of the SC related to PTI intra-party elections, when the latest intra-party polls were held in March, he said.

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.

But, in case of the PTI intra-party polls, the matter has remained lingering since June 2022 when the PTI held its intra-party elections but the ECP refused to accept these polls, raising procedural objections.

In November last year, the electoral body again nullified the June 2022 intra-party elections of the PTI despite earlier verbally declaring these polls as legitimate. In the final hearing of the case in August last year, 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 in June 2022— and that the matter stood resolved.

After ECP’s November 2023 decision, PTI held its intra-party elections again in December but the poll entity again nullified the PTI’s intra-party elections, for the third time, declaring it ineligible for obtaining its traditional electoral symbol of Bat.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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