Disgruntled Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Akbar S Babar has claimed that reports of his application being dismissed were incorrect. Instead, he said the Election Commission of Pakistan had given 14 witnesses time to present evidence that the intra-party elections were fraudulent.
He said this while speaking during a programme on Dawn News. Babar said that while the hearing was underway, the fake news started doing the rounds that his application had been rejected.
"Professionalism demands that first a news should be verified because the truth is that the Election Commission has asked 14 people to provide evidence because the petitioners believe that PTI's alleged intra-party elections were based on fraud."
He said his lawyer had a comprehensive discussion with other lawyers, and many legal points have come to the fore.
Babar said that everyone has testified that they were not given time to testify. He added that there was no such thing as a voter list or nomination papers, and no code of conduct of elections was available.
He said that when they asked those in the party's central secretariat who look after all these matters and are quite close to party supremo Imran Khan for the voters list, nomination papers, and election code of conduct to participate in the elections. This was our Constitutional right.
Babar further said that they shared other videos in which two to three dozen people can be seen raising slogans. On this, legal questions were raised. He said that his petition was based on two to three points, with the core question being the validity of intra-party elections based on the available evidence, which showed they were a sham.
The disgruntled party leader said that the election conducted by the PTI, the process was completed within two hours. It began at 10 am, and by 12 pm, its results showed that Gohar Khan was elected chairman. Previously, in 2013, it took the party a year to complete the intraparty elections with many workers participating and voting at party offices. Even then, a lot of questions were raised on the elections.
A tribunal was set up under Justice (retired) Wajeehuddin to identify gaps.
His other contention in the petition was that since the Election Commission of Pakistan enjoys vast powers, it should use those powers to give the PTI another chance to conduct intra-party elections with independent monitors to ensure transparency. Until these elections are held, PTI should not be allotted the 'bat' electoral symbol as leverage.
The third contention was that the intra-party election laws should be equally applicable to all political parties to provide them with democratic institutions with a mechanism to surface true leaders.
If that does not happen, then intra-party elections will become mechanisms to recycle old leaders who have failed miserably in the past.
He said this is why those who are capable and are good leaders fail to come forward.
During the discussion on fake news, Babar related that an ECP member from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa suggested that they have reached their limit for concessions to the PTI and will now enforce the law. Imagine that if the other four members decide based on this, how dangerous would this be for the PTI? Babar said, adding that the PTI would lose its symbol of 'bat' and the entire party would be at risk of being de-listed.
We are trying for the ECP to somehow take the matter into their own hands and give the party another chance, but for that, transparent elections need to be held. Babar stated that this was when people claimed that my application had been rejected.
If our petition had been rejected, why would a notification for the 12th be issued? he asked if there was any document or notice that claerly rejected his petition. He said that the PTI will be allowed to explain themselves before a verdict is announced.
In response to a question, Babar claimed that a large segment within the party backed his stance. This includes PTI Punjab founding member Saeedullah Khan Niazi, who is also Imran Khan's first cousin. He repeatedly contacted me from Mianwali and asked for nomination papers, voter lists, and a code of conduct to participate in the elections. Babar said he told Niazi they had nothing, so how could they share it?
He said that a female member of PTI and former deputy head of its women's labour wing also came with her documents. A PTI MPA hopeful from the 2013 election and Swabi's general secretary were also present in the hearing.
Babar questioned why does the party not trust its workers. Are the workers only supposed to pour into the streets, go to jail, and take beatings for your rule? Does a worker not have the right to elect his party leadership, he asked, adding this is not the system that is in vogue in the UK.
He said that an Indian-origin man rose to the top on merit and becamebecame the prime minister in the UK.
Another Pakistan-origin Briton is democratically elected as the mayor of London.
"Why have you closed this route in your party," Babar asked the party's leadership. He answered his question by stating that in Pakistan, certain individuals and families capture political parties and use them as a ladder to climb into power.
This is why, he said, democracy appears only on paper in Pakistan.
Sher Afzal Marwat Booked
Meanwhile, PTI leader Sher Afzal Marwat managed to evade arrest in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after workers prevented some 300 police officers from arresting him ahead of an electoral rally in Bajaur on Saturday.
In messages posted on his social media account, the PTI core committee member posted a copy of the FIR against him for allegedly running through a checkpost in Chakdara. He was booked for criminal intimidation (Section 506 Pakistan Penal Code), wrongful restraint (Section 341 PPC), assault or criminal force to deter a public servant from discharge of his duty (Section 353 PPC) and disobedience to order duly promulgated by a public servant (Section 188 PPC).
Another FIR!— Sher Afzal Khan Marwat (@sherafzalmarwat) December 9, 2023
میں ایسی جھوٹی ایف آئی آر اپنے جوتے کی نوک پر رکھتا ہوں! pic.twitter.com/YjWZBBHShq
Marwat, however, managed to make it to Bajaur for the PTI convention. But a large contingent of police confronted him there and attempted to arrest him.
Bajour right now! pic.twitter.com/dTIqgk8rHJ— Sher Afzal Khan Marwat (@sherafzalmarwat) December 9, 2023