The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) reserved its verdict on Monday regarding petitions challenging the intra-party elections of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). The five-member commission, led by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, conducted the hearing, attended by PTI Chairman Gohar Khan, Barrister Ali Zafar, Babar, and others.
Gohar, speaking to the media, emphasized that the intra-party elections issue had persisted for a year. He urged the ECP to announce the verdict promptly, as the deadline for filing nominations for the upcoming general election is December 22. Gohar expressed concern that the unresolved matter could lead to horsetrading during the elections.
Simultaneously, the Lahore High Court (LHC) ordered the release of PTI Senior Vice President Sher Afzal Marwat, who was arrested on December 14, ten days after organizing a worker’s convention in Swabi. PTI Chairman had condemned the arrest, stating that such actions could impact the fairness of elections.
The background reveals that on November 23, the ECP nullified PTI’s intra-party polls held in June the previous year. The ECP directed the party to conduct new elections within 20 days if it wished to retain its “bat” symbol for the upcoming general elections scheduled for February 8. The subsequent polls on December 3 resulted in Barrister Gohar Khan replacing Imran Khan as PTI chairman.
Estranged PTI founding member Akbar S. Babar announced his intention to challenge the polls, asserting that an unusually low number of people, 15 to 20, were present during the intra-party election. Leaders from various other parties, including PML-N and PPP, have also raised questions about the legitimacy of the elections. The ongoing legal and political developments add complexity to the landscape as the country approaches the general elections.