The Peshawar High Court (PHC) has directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to expedite its decision on the matter of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) intra-party polls and electoral symbol, with a deadline set for tomorrow, December 22. The verdict, announced by a two-member bench comprising Justice Attique Shah and Justice Shakeel Ahmed, came in response to a series of PTI petitions requesting the publication of intra-party poll results on the ECP’s website. This publication is crucial for PTI’s participation in the upcoming general elections.
The intra-party elections, held on December 2, saw Barrister Gohar Khan succeeding Imran Khan as PTI chairman, a process initiated by the electoral body. However, the polls faced criticism from estranged PTI founding member Akbar S. Babar, who vowed to challenge the entire process, alleging a biased selection aimed at sidelining party workers in favor of a select few lawyers.
The PHC’s order emphasizes the need for the ECP to decide on the matter promptly, considering the impending deadline for filing nomination papers. The court refrained from making specific orders regarding the publication of PTI’s certificate on the website, instead directing the ECP to decide by December 22, adhering strictly to the law.
During the hearing, Barrister Gohar expressed concerns about the ECP’s delay in the matter, asserting that the PTI’s candidates would be considered independent if they were not allotted an election symbol by tomorrow. He argued that political parties have the authority to determine their intra-party election processes, emphasizing the link between these elections and the allocation of electoral symbols.
Responding to the PTI’s concerns, the ECP counsel, Mohsin Kamran, stated that the commission would publish the results once it was satisfied with them. However, he deemed the polls controversial, prompting questions about who made them contentious and whether the petitioners challenging the elections were still part of the party.
The court intervened, suggesting that the ECP should independently decide on the matter, with the option for the PTI to challenge the decision if necessary. The verdict was subsequently reserved, setting the stage for a crucial development in PTI’s internal dynamics and its preparation for the upcoming elections.