PTI Determined To Take Electoral Field Without 'Bat'

Party vows to go to Supreme Court to retrieve party symbol, rules out election boycott

PTI Determined To Take Electoral Field Without 'Bat'

The Peshawar High Court on Wednesday withdrew its interim order, which suspended a decision by the Election Commission of Pakistan whereby the PTI lost its recently elected chairman and electoral symbol.

On Wednesday, a single-member bench of the Peshawar High Court (PHC) heard a review petition filed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) against an order previously given by the court that suspended an order issued by the commission.

Late last year, the commission issued an order whereby the intra-party elections conducted by the PTI were annulled for failing to adhere to the party's constitution. Consequently, the PTI lost not only its chairperson, Barrister Gohar Ali Khan, but also its electoral symbol, 'bat'.

But when the PHC issued an interim order suspending the ECP's decision, it restored Gohar Ali Khan as the party's chairperson and its electoral symbol.

On Wednesday, lawyers representing the ECP and PTI appeared before the court.

PTI's counsel contested the application filed by the ECP, asking whether the commission could file the review, adding that despite the court's order, the ECP had failed to issue the party a certificate for conducting intra-party elections.

At this, the court asked the PTI lawyer whether they had filed a contempt of court petition over the ECP's failure to implement court decisions.

However, PTI's lawyer, Qazi Anwar, said they were being pushed into a corner by the ECP with the nomination papers of their candidates rejected. He went on to ask what problem the ECP had with issuing the party a certificate on intra-party elections.

He said that pushing a major party into a corner was not right for the ECP or democracy in the country.

Anwar added that ECP should not be used as a tool against a party, instead it should hold free and fair elections with a level playing field.

The ECP's counsel argued that the court's December 26 order was issued without hearing the ECP. 

After hearing the arguments, the court reserved its judgment. After a few hours, it read out its judgement, approving the ECP's review petition and restoring the commission's decision on PTI's intra-party elections.

PTI vows to go to SC

Following the court's verdict, PTI's defunct chairperson, Barrister Gohar Ali Khan, told the media that the party will move the Supreme Court over the matter.

He added that if they are not allotted the symbol of 'Bat' on January 13, they will go to polls with the symbol they are allotted, but they will not boycott the polls. 

Barrister Gohar Ali Khan decried attempts to 'minus' PTI from the electoral scene. He lamented how the election commission failed to issue a certificate of the intra-party elections despite the court's orders.

Commenting on the arrest of Khalid Khosa, he noted that if a lawyer appears on behalf of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), there are no issues, but if the lawyer appears on behalf of PTI, then he is promptly arrested.

He urged the courts to play their role and for Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa to intervene. He reposed his faith in the judiciary to hold transparent elections.

On elections, he said his party had plans 'B' and 'C' to get to Parliament.