ISLAMABAD - The election commission Monday allotted the 'arrow' symbol to the Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarians (PPPP), the major faction of PPP brand, after its members had clumsy clashes with members of two other smaller groups.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) however withheld the decision over the very name of Pakistan People's Party (PPP) as Ghinwa Bhutto and Naheed Khan also demanded registering their groups with this name.

The PPP, founded by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and later led by his daughter Benazir Bhutto, was renamed and registered with the ECP as PPPP after the then president Pervaiz Musharraf got election laws amended to prevent Benazir and Nawaz Sharif from contesting the elections. After Benazir’s killing, her husband, President Zardari, led the party with the new name of PPP Parliamentarians and formed coalition government.

Ghinwa Bhutto, chairperson of the Pakistan People's Party-Shaheed Bhutto (PPP-SB), had requested the ECP to register her party as the PPP and for the allotment of 'sword' as the election symbol for her party. On the other hand, estranged People's Party leaders Naheed Khan and her husband Safdar Abbasi had also filed a request for the registration of a new party called the PPP and had also requested for 'arrow' as the election symbol.

Justice (r) Riaz Kayani led the reference proceedings, also supervised by the other three Members Election Commission (MECs), over the allotment of the 'arrow' symbol and the name of the Pakistan People's Party. The bench allotted the 'arrow' symbol to the PPPP but reserved its decision over the registration and name of the PPP.

The PPPP was represented at the commission hearing by Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Latif Khosa, Farroq H Naek and Masood Kausar. While Jahangir Badr was also there claiming that he was appointed PPP’s general secretary by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir.

As part of preplanned strategy Badr also argued against Khosa, who also claimed of being the secretary general of the party. There were heated exchanges between the two and the commission sent Jehangir Badr to the adjacent room to pacify the situation. However after the commission verdict, both the leaders said they had no differences but they wanted to secure the PPP's name and historic arrow symbol and save it from going to Ghinva Bhutto and Naheed Khan.

Naheed Khan and Safdar Abbasi raised slogans of "Shame Shame" after the announcement in the courtroom while a heated argument and scuffle occurred between the supporters of Naheed and PPPP outside the ECP premises.

On their return, Safdar and Naheed were surrounded at the ECP's outer premises by dozens of PPPP workers who started abusing the couple for the ‘attempt to hijack’ their party. They physically thrashed the two politicians. Some of the journalists trying to cover the incident with a 'close range' also fell victim to the beating.

A PPP leader Shahzadi Kausar Gilani beat Naheed’s supporters with her shoes. During exchange of bouts Shahzadi and Naheed’s assistant Muhammad Asif fell unconscious. Naheed herself went unconscious during the scuffles while the victim journalists received minor injuries. Police intervened and separated the two groups but no arrests were made.

Talking to this correspondent later, Naheed Khan, a trusted associate of slain PPP chief Benazir Bhutto, lambasted PPPP leadership. "The PPP-P leadership supervised this attack on us using its bandits and outlaws," she alleged and held Badr and Khosa responsible for it. "They patronised it. It all happened in front of their eyes." She said, it is her constitutional and democratic right to have PPP registered as political party since there is no ECP-registered party with the same name as PPP.

When contacted, Jehangir Badr attempted to dissociate PPPP leadership from the thrashing incident and promised to punish their unruly workers who, he claimed, did not even listened to their calls for calm. Former law minister Farooq H Naek said they would contest the upcoming elections under the PPPP banner.