Islamabad - The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has barred the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) from contesting by-polls in four constituencies.

The ECP issued this order after the PTI failed to conduct intra-party elections in the prescribed time.

The by-election in PP-23 Chakwal is scheduled on April 18th, in PS-81 Sanghar on April 20th whereas PK-54 Mansehra and PK-82 Kohistan will witness the by-polls on May 10th.

The commission also withdrew the PTI election symbol “Bat” granted to the party in 2013 general elections. Moreover, the ECP has slapped a ban of two months on conducting of intra-party elections.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday issued notice to PTI Chairman Imran Khan for violating code of conduct and for addressing a public meeting in PP-23 Chakwal.

In another related development the commission has adjourned hearing of PTI foreign funding case till today (Tuesday). Legal counsels of Imran Khan completed their arguments. Arguments by the legal counsel of Akbar S Babar, the petitioner, were in progress when the commission adjourned the hearing till Tuesday.

PTI DECIDES TO HOLD INTRA-PARTY POLLS

After the decision of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to bar PTI from contesting election on bat as its symbol, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf announced to hold intra-party polls - an exercise that is being seen an eye-wash to satisfy the commission.

PTI in a statement said that 2.7 million members will be choosing the leadership of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf in the upcoming intra-party elections. According to the details issued by PTI Central Media Department, the criterion for the elections will be announced in a few days.

Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf is the first and the only party with inherent democratic stratum and besides this PTI is also vigilantly focusing on national agenda as well, the statement said, adding that PTI’s fight in Panama leaks case is the fight for the survival of democracy.

It said that Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf has become an institution where audits are being conducted on regular basis and it has provided all the necessary records to ECP. PTI is the country’s only democratic party and it doesn’t need any kind of warnings or caution for intra-party elections.

PTI said that in the next few weeks, elections will be conducted and all the democratic requirements will be fulfilled as it is the legacy of PTI to ensure the implementation of democratic principles within party.

A few days ago, the ECP had said that PTI would not be allowed to contest election on its election symbol - bat – as it had not held its intra-party polls as required under Political Parties Order 2002.

An important party meeting to finalise arrangements for intra-party polls would to be held in Bani Gala today.

Rules provide election of office-bearers within any political party under its constitution or up to after every four years. PTI last conducted intra-party elections in 2012. Now the law demands PTI to hold fresh elections and submit its results with the ECP to continue using its election symbol.

In December 2015, PTI chief Imran Khan announced to hold elections within party but for one reason or the other it has been delayed.

PTI had held its first intra-party elections in 2012, in accordance with the democratic norms but after that party failed to do so. Imran Khan had claimed once and again that his party would be the first party in the country to hold genuine intra-party polls transparently which is a rare exercise here in this country. However, now the party fears that intra-party polls would cause further divisions within the PTI .

Due to differences surfaced as a result of last intra-party elections in 2012, the PTI had lost one of its stalwarts Justice (retd) Wajihuddin Ahmed, who served as head of the PTI’s Election Tribunal.

Some party leaders are advising leadership not to waste any significant time over this exercise and resort to traditional approach like PML-N and PPP to avoid divisions within the party ranks and to keep next general elections in focus. PPP and PML-N underwent such traditional exercise of party polls last year.