ISLAMABAD - As many as 118 political parties out of the total 227 registered with the Election Commission of Pakistan applied (till Friday evening) for the allotment of electoral symbols as the related deadline expired on Friday midnight.

Of the remaining 109 political parties, which did not apply for electoral symbols, comprise those parties that lack any practical presence on ground. Generally, the major political parties have applied for the symbols that were allotted to them in the past, on the basis of Preferential Rights-the right to allotment of the previously allotted electoral symbol.

According to ECP sources, such symbols that have been applied for by more than one political party and have never been previously allotted would be allotted through draw or balloting due to the reason that the rule of Preferential Rights cannot be applied in such cases. Some 18 ‘smaller’ political parties have applied for the electoral symbol of ‘Sun’ while more than six parties are said to have applied for the symbol of ‘Crescent.’

Moreover, certain major parties including Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Jamat-e-Islami and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl had moved ECP for the allotment of the symbols of choice. The PTI and JI wanted ‘Scale” while JUI-F wanted ‘Closed Book.’ The ECP had allotted JI the symbol of ‘Scale’ on Preferential Rights basis since the political party had contested 1970 general elections using the same symbol. The JUI-F, from the collective platform of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) was allotted ‘Closed Book’. In November last year, the electoral body replaced the ‘Closed Book’ symbol with ‘Open Book’ and allotted it to the JUI-F in January. The decision was taken following reports that some JUI-F leaders were likening ‘Closed Book’ to Holy Quran in the campaigns for respective by-elections. The party’s appeal to the ECP to review its decision was turned down some days back.    

The ECP on this month’s beginning had asked the political parties to apply for the electoral symbols within 15-days in order to become eligible to contest general elections. The submission of the intra-party elections certificates as well as Annual Statement of Accounts are the two essential pre-requisites for political parties to attain eligibility for electoral symbols allotment in the light of relevant provisions of Political Parties Order 2002 and Allocation of Symbols Order 2002. Although, the PTI’s intra-party elections are yet to be completed, it has submitted a provisional certificates regarding party elections with the assurance that complete intra-party election results would be submitted by the coming 23rd.  The ‘Bat’ symbol has been allotted to the PTI on provisional basis till its complete intra-party election results are received, the ECP sources informed.

In November last year, the ECP had introduced 34 new electoral symbols and omitted nine. The number of ECP-listed electoral symbols is presently recorded at 173. ‘Cat’ was abolished on the request of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. The party believes ‘Cat’ bears resemblance with ‘Tiger’ the PML-N’s traditional electoral symbol.

In December, the electoral body had first asked the political parties to submit their account statements and intra-party elections’ certificates.

According to Section 7 (1) of the Allocation of Symbols Order 2002, a political party shall have preference for allocation of a symbol if such a symbol was allocated to it in an earlier election. “If a political party, satisfies the requirements under para 5, it may be allotted a symbol for all its candidates if it sends their list to the election commission in time provided in the press release: Provided that a political party shall have preference for allocation of a symbol if such a symbol was allocated to it before entering into an alliance with other parties in an earlier election,” it says.

Para 5, of the same order says, “Subject to fulfilment of the provisions of Political Parties Order, 2002 and the rules framed there under, a political party shall make an application to the election commission for allocation of a symbol of its choice within the period specified by the commission in its press release.”

On the basis of this provision, PML-Quaid-e-Azam is to get ‘Bicycle,’ Pakistan People’s Party-Parliamentarians, ‘Arrow,’ PML-N, ‘Tiger,’ Muttahida Qaumi Movement, ‘Kite,’ and Awami National Party is to get the electoral symbol of’ ‘lantern.’