PTI ‘manipulated’ intra-party polls challenged in ECP

“We want to save [electoral] symbol of bat,” Akbar S Babar says

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Tuesday, December 05, 2023
PTI founding member Akbar S Babar speaks with journalists outside the ECP office in Islamabad on December 5, 2023, in this still taken from a video. — YouTube/Geo News Live


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) recent-held intra-party polls were Tuesday challenged at the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

PTI founding member Akbar S Babar, in his plea, requested the country's top electoral authority to order the Imran Khan-led party to conduct fresh polls.

Following the polls held in Peshawar to elect the party's new officeholders including a replacement for former chairman Imran, the party members voted in favour of Barrister Gohar Khan, the ex-PTI chief's lawyer whom he nominated himself for the key post.

In the wake of the elections, held on December 2, Babar refused to accept the polls and move the electoral authority against the irregularities. The senior politician added that he and other founding leaders are part of the party following the high court’s decision.

Babar, along with other party members and former officeholders, filed their petition against "rigged/fraudulent PTI intra-party elections" at the ECP headquarters in Islamabad today.

The politician approached the ECP seeking its intervention in the matter as a member of PTI whose membership was validated by the electoral body.

"I pray that the Election Commission of Pakistan, declare the PTI Intra Party Election purportedly held on December 2, 2023, as ‘Null and Void’ and without any legal effect and the ‘Party’ be directed to hold fresh intra-party elections as soon as possible," the petition read.

Babar and others, in the petition, mentioned that given the chequered history of PTI in conducting transparent intra-party polls, as partially documented in the ECP's order of November 3, 2023, the commission may appoint independent third-party monitors to review and monitor fresh intra-party PTI elections.

He added that the party's symbol of the "bat" may be held in abeyance as long as the PTI does not conduct fresh, transparent intra-party polls according to law.

The petition stated that the Election Act 2017 and the Rules provide the legal framework to ensure that the leadership of political parties is democratically elected and represents the will of its members.

"It is time that the charade of holding rigged and manipulated intra-party elections must end. All major political parties must be vigorously scrutinised under the relevant laws to allow credible and competent leadership to emerge from within political parties," it read.

This is the only way forward for democracy to deliver and meet the challenges confronting society, the petition further stated.

Babar slams Gohar

Speaking to journalists outside the ECP today, the PTI founding member said other members of the PTI had also filed separate applications against the intra-party polls.

“We want to save the [electoral] symbol of bat,” he said adding that he had filed an application for the allocation of the bat symbol.

He said former office bearers of the PTI — Yousuf Ali and Noreen Farooq — have also filed applications along with him.

The PTI founding member said that he has also submitted a court decision along with the application that restored his party membership. “I am the only party member who secured favourable verdicts from different judicial forums.”

He also called upon the ECP to declare the intra-party polls as null and void in order to hold transparent party elections.

Babar said Gohar had nothing to do with PTI, but he was made the party chairman.