‘Rigged, Fraudulent’: Pleas against PTI intra-party polls land in ECP

ISLAMABAD: Founding member of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Akbar S. Babar and another member Raja Tahir Nawaz on Tuesday moved the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) against the party’s intra-party elections, describing the polls as “rigged and fraudulent”.

The PTI conducted the intra-party polls on Saturday in accordance with the ECP directives in which Barrister Gohar Ali Khan, a nominee of incarcerated Imran Khan, was elected unopposed as the new chairman of the party.

A member of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Raja Tahir Nawaz filed a petition against Intra-party elections of the party in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

Raja Tahir Nawaz, a resident of Islamabad and a PTI member, pleaded that the PTI’s constitution was not followed in intra-party elections. “A dummy panel was floated to conduct the party elections,” according to the plea.

“The responsibility was upon the party’s secretary general to hold intra-party elections,” he said.

The party member has sought the election commission’s order to declare recently held party elections and the secretary general directed to conduct re-election of the party. Azizuddin Kakakhel Advocate filed petition in the ECP on behalf of Raja Tahir Nawaz.

On the other hand, Akbar S. Babar penned a letter to Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja. He said that after the commission directed the party to hold the polls, the PTI core committee issued a press release, stating that preparations were complete and announced Niazullah Niazi as the PTI CEC.

Babar said the press release did not mention any other names of the PTI Federal Election Commission or share other details of the polls such as the election rules, regulations, detailed schedule of elections, nomination timeline and various other aspects.

He added that the press release also did not specify the vote-counting process or the announcement of election results, further saying that no such information was available on the PTI website until polling day.

Babar said that on Dec 1, he visited the PTI Central Secretariat in Islamabad in the afternoon with other party members but the party representative present at the site had “expressed his helplessness in sharing the required information (nomination papers, voter lists and rules and regulations of the elections) as none existed”.

Commenting on the day of the election, Babar said: “A crowd of a few scores of people, without any prior authentication regarding their status in the party, were assembled in an undisclosed location in Peshawar who shouted: ‘We accept, we accept’.

“The charade was filmed and shown on national television. The same day before noon, the election results were announced to the media. All the candidates were elected unopposed,” he said.

Babar said that “in the absence of basic rules of elections […] the entire intra-party election was a mere eye wash and a vain attempt to hoodwink the ECP”.

He said the “fraudulent” process had “disenfranchised” PTI members from participating in the intra-party elections in clear violation of ECP laws.

Babar added that even representatives of independent organisations such as Pildat had expressed “serious reservations about the transparency” of the intra-party polls.

The founding PTI member said he was left with no other choice than to approach the electoral watchdog and request that it declare the intra-party elections “null and void” while also issuing fresh directives for holding new polls as soon as possible.

Considering the PTI’s “chequered history” in holding intra-party elections, Babar suggested that the ECP appoint independent third-party monitors to review and oversee the process.

Babar further said that the party’s election symbol of the bat be held in abeyance until it conducted transparent polls in accordance with the law.

“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. This is the only way forward for democracy to deliver and meet the challenges confronting society,” he said.

Talking to the media in Islamabad outside the ECP, Babar lashed out at the PTI leadership and questioned why it did not provide a level playing field to its workers.

“Why don’t you give them the right to elect their leadership? You talk about a level playing field, why don’t you provide it in your home and to your party members?” he asked.

Various other petitions were also submitted to the ECP along similar lines as Babar’s with the mutual demands of declaring the intra-party elections without effect and orders for the exercise to be carried out anew.



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