February 2, 2024
ISLAMABAD – After losing its electoral symbol ‘bat’ and possibly the reserved seats in the National Assembly, the PTI has approached four political parties, including religiopolitical outfits, in hope its ‘independent’ members will join these parties after the election, which will allow the former ruling party to retain its reserved seats through proxy measures.
In another bid to reclaim its symbol, the PTI has decided to hold intra-party polls on Feb 5, but the party leaders are not hopeful about the desired outcome.
It also believes the establishment will not allow any political party to gain a simple majority, and a ‘coalition government’ will be installed with strings attached. This was disclosed during a media briefing by PTI information secretary Raoof Hasan, also the federal election commissioner for the intra-party polls, on Thursday.
According to Mr Hassan, the intra-party elections will be held on Feb 5 and all arrangements were finalised.
“We have opened a portal on the website…and only registered members will be allowed to contest elections. Candidates can get nomination papers from offices across the country or can download them from the website,” said the PTI leader.
He added that they would submit the result to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), but they were not hoping for any relief from the watchdog. He feared the ECP may not allot the PTI its symbol or say that the elected independent members would not be allowed to join the party since it did not have lawmakers in the lower house of parliament.
According to the rules, independent members can only join those political parties which have at least one member in the National Assembly.
“If that situation develops, our independent candidates will join other parties, allowing us to get the reserved and minority seats. I do not want to mention the names of those parties as they will be pressurised from now onwards,” he said.
However, the PTI leader later revealed that Majlis-i-Wahdat-i-Muslimeen and JUP-Sherani may be contacted.
When contacted for comment on the intra-party polls, former ECP secretary Kanwar Dilshad told Dawn the election watchdog would be the final decision-making authority.
“The PTI is an unfortunate political party because every time people from within the party file applications to stop the process of intra-party elections. I think someone, like Akbar S. Babar, will challenge the intra-party polls and the ‘bat’ symbol will not be allotted till the decision on the application,” he said, adding that a symbol-less party cannot be joined by independent nominees.
According to another senior official of the ECP, Rule 92(6) of Elections Act 2017 allows members to join any party within three days after the elections,
Imran’s popularity rising
The PTI spokesperson said the popularity of the PTI and its founder Imran Khan was rising with every passing day.
He alleged that PTI leaders and workers were being subjected to the worst form of oppression. He hoped that Imran Khan would bounce back with the power of the ballot and sail through all his hardships.
He stated that the party leadership was facing immense pressure from people to give a protest call against the jail sentence awarded to Imran Khan, but they would rely on votes to avenge injustices meted out to Imran Khan.