Supreme Court Strips PTI of ‘Bat’ Symbol Ahead of General Elections

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has overturned the Peshawar High Court’s ruling that had reinstated the ‘bat’ as the electoral symbol for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). The verdict, delivered by a three-member bench led by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, came as a significant setback to the PTI, led by Imran Khan, just weeks before the general elections scheduled for February 8.

The Supreme Court’s judgment declared the plea in the Peshawar High Court inadmissible, citing the legal principle that a single case cannot be pursued in two High Courts simultaneously. The ruling further stated that the PTI had failed to provide evidence of conducting transparent intra-party elections, a requirement mandated for all political parties.

Chief Justice Isa emphasized that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had been requesting the PTI to hold its intra-party elections since May 24, 2021, when the party was in power both federally and in several provinces. The judgment clarified that the ECP’s actions were not discriminatory or malicious, as similar or more severe orders had been passed against 13 other political parties.

In response to the verdict, PTI Chairman Barrister Gohar Ali Khan expressed deep disappointment and labeled the Supreme Court’s order as ‘controversial.’ He announced that the PTI would challenge the decision and stated that all PTI candidates would now contest the elections independently. “We will issue a list of all our candidates with their election symbols,” he assured.

Barrister Gohar argued that the technical grounds for the judgment were misinterpreted and that allowing candidates to run independently could pave the way for corruption. Echoing his sentiments, PTI leader Barrister Ali Zafar expressed regret over the ‘soft questions’ posed to those who appeared before the court and affirmed the party’s readiness to compete with full force on February 8.

The Supreme Court’s order also referenced a similar case involving the All Pakistan Muslim League, which was upheld by the court on January 12, 2024. The order reiterated the ECP’s role in ensuring that political parties conduct intra-party elections and that mere certification of such elections would not suffice without substantiation, especially when challenged.

As the PTI gears up to contest the elections independently, the political landscape of Pakistan remains in flux. The party’s determination to challenge the verdict and run a robust campaign reflects its commitment to its supporters and the democratic process.

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