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The Denial of the Fundamental Right of the PTI Voters to Vote BAT: A Critical Analysis

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Ahmed Waseem

Intra-party elections are the process of electing the leaders and office-bearers of a political party by its members. They are supposed to ensure democracy, accountability, and transparency within the party, as well as to reflect the will and preferences of the party workers and supporters. Intra-party elections are also required by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for a party to be eligible for a common election symbol and reserved seats in the parliament.
However, intra-party elections in Pakistan have often been marred by irregularities, controversies, and legal challenges. Some parties have been accused of holding sham elections, where the party leaders are elected unopposed or by a small group of handpicked delegates without giving a fair chance to other candidates or consulting the majority of the party members. Such elections are not transparent or according to the party constitution, and they violate the principles of democracy and representation.

Regarding the intra-party elections of political parties, the PTI’s intra-party elections were challenged by some dissident party members, who alleged that the elections were rigged, manipulated, and unconstitutional. They claimed that the party leader, Imran Khan, had imposed his own loyalists as office-bearers without giving any opportunity to other candidates or consulting the party workers. They also alleged that the party had violated its own constitution and the ECP’s rules by holding indirect elections, where only a few delegates voted, instead of direct elections, where millions of party members could participate.
The ECP, which is the constitutional body responsible for conducting and supervising the elections in Pakistan, took notice of the PTI’s intra-party elections and declared them null and void in December 2023. The ECP also stripped the PTI of its iconic bat election symbol, which it had used since its inception in 1996. The ECP said that the PTI had failed to comply with the ECP’s rules and regulations and that its intra-party elections were not free, fair, or transparent. The ECP also said that the PTI had not submitted the required documents and details of its intra-party elections, such as the list of candidates, voters, and results.

The PTI challenged the ECP’s decision in the Peshawar High Court (PHC), which initially suspended the ECP’s verdict and restored the PTI’s bat symbol. However, the ECP appealed against the PHC’s order in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, which is the highest judicial authority in the country. After hearing the arguments of both sides, the Supreme Court upheld the ECP’s decision and declared the PTI’s intra-party elections null and void. The Supreme Court also said that the PTI had violated its own constitution and the ECP’s rules by holding indirect elections and that the PTI had not provided any evidence to prove the validity of its intra-party elections. The Supreme Court also said that the PTI had lost its right to use the bat symbol.
The Supreme Court’s decision has serious implications for the PTI and its leader, Imran Khan, who is the former prime minister of Pakistan. The decision means that the PTI’s current office-bearers, including its chairman, Gauhar Khan, are not legally elected and have no authority to represent the party. The decision also means that the PTI will have to hold fresh intra-party elections, which are likely to create divisions and conflicts within the party. The decision also means that the PTI will lose its popular and recognizable bat symbol, which could affect its electoral performance and public support. The decision also means that the PTI will not be eligible for reserved seats in the parliament, which are allocated to parties based on their proportion of seats won in the general elections.

The Supreme Court’s decision has also sparked a debate on the role and power of the ECP and the judiciary in regulating and overseeing the intra-party elections of political parties. Some people have supported the decision, saying that it is a step towards ensuring democracy, transparency, and accountability within the political parties, and that it will prevent the parties from becoming personal fiefdoms of their leaders. They have also said that the decision will empower the party workers and supporters, who will have a say in choosing their leaders and representatives.
However, many people have criticized the decision, saying that it is an interference and intrusion into the internal affairs of the political parties, and that it is a violation of the fundamental right of representation of the party voters. They have also said that the decision will create instability and uncertainty in the political system, and that it will undermine the sovereignty of the people, who have elected their representatives to apply the sovereignty of Allah. They have also said that the decision will weaken the foundation of the constitution of Pakistan, which is based on the principle of delegated sovereignty from Allah to the people.
The issue of intra-party elections in Pakistan is a complex and contentious one, which involves legal, political, and constitutional aspects. The issue reflects the challenges and dilemmas of democracy and representation in Pakistan, which is a diverse and dynamic country. The issue also raises questions about the role and responsibility of the political parties, the ECP, and the judiciary in ensuring free, fair, and transparent elections in Pakistan. The issue also has implications for the future of the PTI, which is the opposition party of Pakistan, and its leader, Imran Khan, who is the former prime minister of Pakistan. The issue also has implications for the upcoming general elections in Pakistan, which are scheduled to be held in February 2024.

Lastly, it is only the right of the people to elect their representatives. Furthermore, it is unfortunate to see that none of the political parties have criticized the decision, as it goes on to show the democratic orientation of the political parties in Pakistan. Interparty elections are only limited to organizers, and they should not affect the fundamental right of the voters to vote for their parties. Yes, SC and ECP might declare the intraparty elections and their organizers null and void, but they can not snatch the right of PTI voters to vote PTI.

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