Intra-party polls: ECP questions 'status' of PTI after 'losing organisational structure'

Electoral authority sends questionnaire to former ruling party over alleged violations of party constitution, Election Act

Nausheen Yusuf
An undated image of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) building in Islamabad. — APP/File

  • ECP questions legality of chief organiser, election commissioner appointments.
  • Sees “violations of party constitution” in PTI intra-party polls.
  • PTI elected top office-bearers during intra-party elections held on March 3.

ISLAMABAD: The submission of documents related to intra-party elections by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has seemingly not satisfied the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) as the top electoral authority raised several queries over the current “status” of the former ruling party after losing “its organisational structure on lapsing of 5 years.”

A two-page questionnaire was sent to the Imran-founded party by the election watchdog after the former submitted documents related to its intra-party elections in a bid to address objections.

The ECP questioned the current “status” of the PTI as a political party besides questioning why not to start the delisting process of the former ruling party’s registration and imposing a fine for not holding timely intra-party elections.

The commission’s first question read that the “PTI did not hold intra-party elections within 5 years, in the departure of Section 208(1). Hence, it lost its organisational structure on lapsing of 5 years. What is the status of PTI now in this perspective, as a political party?”

It also questioned the legality of the party’s chief organiser and federal election commissioner appointed by its General Body, while the PTI’s constitution defines appointments on the former position via its National Council on recommendations of the Chief Executive Committee (CEC).

According to the ECP, a political party would be registered in accordance with the old law under the Election Act if it submits certificates within a week after intra-party polls, besides complete records of elected office-bearers, poll data and results. Moreover, it also requires to submit relevant documents in 60 days under the Election Act.

The ECP questioned why not to commence the delisting process of the Imran-founded party for not submitting the documents as per the prescribed law.

The questionnaire also raised a query regarding the imposition of a fine on the PTI under the law which allows penalising a political party for failing to hold intra-party polls.

The commission asked the PTI leadership to submit its response to the observations to proceed further in accordance with the law.

PTI's intra-party polls hit by objections

Last month, the recently held intra-party elections of the PTI had once again been questioned by the ECP as the latter sent a notice to the former ruling party over alleged irregularities, Geo News reported citing sources.

The PTI filed the documents related to its intra-party polls to the ECP on March 4. The documents, submitted by PTI's Federal Election Commissioner Raoof Hasan, included details of the newly-elected party office-bearers, a certificate of the party chief containing Form 65, names of the core committee members, and other relevant records.

The party, which elected Barrister Gohar Ali Khan and Omar Ayub as its chairman and secretary general on March 3, needs the relevant certificate to qualify for the allocation of its electoral symbol "bat" by the electoral body.

After being kicked out of the election race following the Supreme Court's verdict upholding the ECP's decision wherein the electoral body had revoked its "bat" symbol citing unlawful intra-party polls, the PTI conducted fresh polls last week.

However, the recent intra-party polls were challenged by PTI's founding member Akbar S Babar, again, who had filed two separate pleas with the electoral body seeking annulment of the intra-party elections.

The PTI, which had held its last intra-party elections in June 2016 — with the next one to be held on or before 13 June 2021 — failed to comply on time, citing the COVID-19 pandemic. The ECP warned the party to respond to the notices sent by the commission or lose its iconic electoral symbol.

The PTI held its intra-party elections twice, but the ECP raised objections and determined that the elections were not held according to the party's constitution.

The party conducted its elections on June 8, 2022, but the ECP rejected the polls for the lack of a formal certificate for the same. The ECP on November 23, 2023, ordered the PTI to conduct its intra-party elections within 20 days or it would be stripped of its electoral symbol. In response, PTI held its intra-party election again on December 2, 2023, which was also turned down by the electoral watchdog.