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PTI seeks judiciary’s help for free, fair polls

By Our Correspondent
December 30, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Gohar Ali Khan on Friday sought the help of the judiciary to offset the conspiracy to exclude the party from the electoral process and ensure free, fair and transparent polls. He said the judiciary should look into the issue of the party’s electoral symbol that was being denied to it and help in providing a level playing field to the party.

This image shows PTI party workers during a rally in KP on December 1, 2023. — Facebook/PTI Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
This image shows PTI party workers during a rally in KP on December 1, 2023. — Facebook/PTI Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Flanked by PTI’s senior leader Sardar Latif Khan Khosa, who a few days ago formally joined the party, the party’s spokesperson for Legal Affairs Shoaib Shaheen and Imran Khan’s lawyer Intizar Hussain Panjhota, PTI Chairman Gohar Ali Khan slammed the PDM leadership for making a hue and cry over the Peshawar High Court’s ruling on PTI’s poll symbol and claimed the rivals were too scared to face the nation and wanted his party to be ousted from the electoral race.

Gohar cautioned that the upcoming elections were the most crucial and derailing them would result in a huge loss for the country. He urged the Election Commission to fulfil its constitutional responsibilities to ensure free, fair and transparent polls by providing a level playing to all political parties. “Is it not better for the judiciary to look into this matter? The judiciary should look into the issue of bat symbol,” he contended.

Gohar alleged that the political opponents were even holding the ECP hostage, adding that they were expecting a statement from the election watchdog. Gohar emphatically said that the bat was not merely PTI’s electoral symbol but it was also the symbol of the expectations of masses and a conspiracy was being hatched to deprive the PTI of its electoral symbol. “The judiciary should look into the issue of bat symbol,” he contended.

Gohar regretted that opponent political parties were attacking the judiciary after the Peshawar High Court suspended the Election Commission of Pakistan’s verdict, stripping the PTI of its symbol. He claimed that political leaders, whose defeat was imminent, were trying to make the PHC’s decision controversial. The PTI leader pointed out that the Supreme Court had ruled that snatching the electoral symbol was equivalent to dissolving a political party and this right only lay with the apex court under Article 17 of the Constitution. Gohar also asked who would get the reserved seats if the election symbol bat was taken away from the PTI.

Gohar contended that all these political leaders of the PDM would not gain anything on February 8 (the polling day), as they would not win even one seat if free, fair and transparent elections were conducted. That was the reason they were hell-bent on taking the bat symbol away from the PTI. The PTI chairman made it clear that he was a representative of Imran “who was, is and will always remain our leader irrespective wherever he was”.

He pointed out that the popularity of PTI could be judged by the fact that the highest number of nomination papers had been filed by PTI candidates. “If you take away our electoral symbol, all of them will contest as independent candidates. If this happens, who will be responsible for horse-trading after the polls,” he asked.

About the maltreatment meted out to PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Barrister Gohar said that the manner of the arrest and keeping him in a cold room overnight was an attempt to pressurise him. He requested the judiciary to look into the issue. He asked the nation to remain peaceful and not to take matters into their own hands.

Speaking on the occasion, Latif Khosa said that an electoral symbol was extremely important as it was used for the identification of a political party, particularly in areas where literacy rates were low. Criticising PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif for the leniency being shown to him, the PTI leader said that a fugitive was seen off at the Heathrow Airport by our ambassador. Similarly, he added that the nomination papers of the convicted person were accepted effortlessly despite being disqualified for life by the top court while PTI candidates’ nomination papers were rejected on lame excuses and frivolous accusations.

Khosa claimed that Nawaz Sharif was brought back to the country under the infamous London Plan to impose him on the country for the fourth time and warned the country would sink if he was imposed as the prime minister again.

Meanwhile, the PTI core committee strongly condemned “the ongoing attempts of pre-election rigging under the supervision and patronage of returning officers across the country, especially in Punjab”.

It also vehemently denounced the alleged manhandling, custodial torture and mistreatment meted out to PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi during his re-arrest and after the Supreme Court (SC) granted him bail in the cipher case. The forum demanded his immediate release and strict action against those found guilty.

The PTI core committee, in its meeting, also decried what it called the use of state machinery in sheer violation of the law against PTI’s candidates during the verification and scrutiny process of their nomination papers. It criticised the detention of the seconders and proposers of PTI candidates despite clear court orders to prevent them from participating in the elections.

It strongly condemned the plan to keep the PTI candidates away from voters and supporters by entangling them in lengthy legal battles, as Returning Officers were tasked to raise fabricated and baseless objections to the nomination papers. It alleged that the Election Commission was responsible for the failure to take remedial measures to offset the “worst election engineering attempts” through the illegal and unconstitutional activities of the returning officers.

It charged that the electoral watchdog had snatched the electoral symbol of ‘bat’ from PTI to force the country’s largest political party out of the political and democratic process instead of ensuring a level playing field. It demanded that the Supreme Court devise a mechanism to monitor ECP and the decisions of its election staff.

The committee noted that PDM leaders, especially the leaders of Awami National Party and JUIF and president of PMLN, carried out organised attacks on a certain section of the judiciary. The core committee asked the people to be ready to exercise their right to vote to inflict a humiliating and crushing defeat on those who plunged the country into myriad problems.

Meanwhile, PTI founder chairman Imran Khan has issued a special message for the youth of Sindh and said that the people of the province are in desperate need of reform and changing the system of politics and government. The cities of the province, controlled by a corrupt family, he claimed, present a picture of ruins and this family is the biggest obstacle in the development of Sindh. “Due to their mismanagement and ruthless rule, at least $10.4 billion were transferred to Dubai in just six years. However, like the rest of the country, political consciousness is reaching its height in Sindh and the people of the province are ready for eternal salvation from this family. The youth of Sindh should come forward for their future and perform the duties of leadership,” he contended.

On February 8 (polling day), he said that the people of Sindh should break the chains of fear and make their vote a guarantor and protector of their future. “If the people of the province, especially the youth, stop rigging, then the PTI will hit the field and Sindh will move on the path of construction and development,” he remarked.