ECP issues objections on PTI intra-party elections for the third instance

According to sources, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has once again raised doubts regarding the recently conducted intra-party elections of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). Alleged irregularities in the polls held on March 3 prompted the electoral authority to issue a notice to the former ruling party.

The ECP’s Political Financing Wing has summoned PTI representatives to appear before the commission on April 30. This marks the third instance where the electoral watchdog has expressed concerns about the internal elections of the troubled party.

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 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.

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