‘Who is ECP to decide hierarchy within political parties’: PTI leader assails election watchdog

If it is accepted that there were flaws in PTI intra-party elections then “who are they to decide”, Latif Khosa asks

PTI leader Latif Khosa. — X/@LatifKhosaP/File
PTI leader Latif Khosa. — X/@LatifKhosaP/File
  • Bilawal elected PPP chairman during similar elections: PTI counsel.  
  • Says PPP, PML-N conducted intra-party elections in similar pattern.
  • Latif Khosa says his party has been deprived of 227 reserved seats.

Coming down hard on the election watchdog and the top judiciary over stripping the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) of its iconic bat symbol, the former ruling party’s counsel Latif Khosa has remarked that who are they to decide hierarchy within political parties.

Last week, the Imran Khan-founded PTI suffered a major blow after the Supreme Court annulled the Peshawar High Court’s (PHC) January 10 order, depriving the former ruling party of its ‘iconic’ electoral symbol — bat — just days ahead of the February 8 general elections.

A three-member bench — headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa and comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Musarrat Hilali — announced the verdict after a day-long hearing. The apex court’s unanimous verdict came after hours of waiting as the CJP Isa-led bench decided to uphold the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) plea.

During an interaction with journalists, Khosa — who had joined the PTI on the directives of incarcerated Imran Khan last month — said if it is accepted that there were flaws in the PTI intra-party elections then “who are they to decide”.

“The PPP and the PML-N have also been conducting intra-party elections in a similar pattern.”

Bilawal was chosen as the PPP chairman via similar elections within the political party, he added.

When asked about any reason or point on which Justice Isa would have provided relief to the former ruling party, Khan’s lawyer said his party had been deprived of 227 reserved seats in the assemblies. “Is the ECP a headmaster? Will the ECP monitor [decide] who will be the president, general secretary or office-bearer of political parties?”

‘Won’t fight case in CJP Isa’s court’

Earlier today, the PTI withdrew its petition seeking contempt proceedings against the ECP over its alleged failure to ensure a level playing field ahead of the upcoming elections.

The PTI had moved the Supreme Court on December 26 last year with the plea. However, the top court today disposed of the plea after the withdrawal of the petition.

During the hearing today, Khosa told CJP Isa that his party would approach the people’s court in this matter. “We do not want to fight this case in your [CJP Isa’s] court. Thank you very much.”

He said that the apex court’s January 13 verdict — which deprived the former ruling party of its ‘bat’ symbol — forced the party to not contest on more than 230 seats.

“Do you want to continue this case or not?” asked CJP Isa. At this, Khosa replied that he had been directed to withdraw the plea.

“We came to your court to get a level-playing field. The verdict that was announced on January 13 at 11:30pm shattered the PTI,” he said, adding that “you snatched PTI’s field”.

The PTI counsel argued that the ECP can only withdraw the election symbol, however, one of the parties is being banned from the parliament. “All of the PTI candidates will now contest as independent candidates which will spread confusion.”

He also told the court that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Nazriyati’s (PTI-N) leader, with whom they had made a deal, was also “picked up and forced to hold a press conference”.

At this, CJP Isa said: “If you don’t accept the verdict then there’s nothing the [court] can do.”

He added that the ECP continuously directed the PTI to conduct intra-party polls but they were still not held.

“You are destroying all the institutions of Pakistan,” the CJP told Khosa.

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