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Saturday May 18, 2024

ECP rejects PTI's March 3 intra-party polls citing 'irregularities'

Political Financing Wing of ECP has asked PTI representatives to appear before electoral watchdog on April 30

By Nausheen Yousaf
April 24, 2024
Security personnel stand guard outside Election Commission of Pakistan building in Islamabad. — AFP/File
Security personnel stand guard outside Election Commission of Pakistan building in Islamabad. — AFP/File

With its founder languishing in Adiala Jail and its leadership in the worst disarray, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's (PTI) problems continued to compound as its recently-held intra-party elections have once again hit a brick wall, sources said on Wednesday.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has sent a notice to the former ruling party over alleged irregularities in the intra-party polls conducted on March 3.

The Political Financing Wing of the ECP has asked PTI representatives to appear before the electoral watchdog on April 30. This is the third time that the poll organising authority has taken exception to the beleaguered party's internal elections.

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 have been once again challenged by PTI's founding member Akbar S Babar who had filed two separate pleas with the electoral body seeking annulment of the intra-party elections.

According to the Election Act (2017), all registered political parties in Pakistan must hold intra-party elections as outlined in their constitution within a specific timeframe.

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 in November 23, 2023 ordered 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.