MUBASHIR HASSAN, Sajid Zia  and JAWAD AWAN

LAHORE - Of all the major political parties, the PPP and the PML-Q (Likeminded) are the two parties which have not conducted intra-party polls as yet to fulfil an essential requirement before the general elections, reveals an investigation conducted by TheNation.

Under Sections 11, 12 and 13 of the Political Parties Order, 2002, it is mandatory for all political parties to hold intra-party polls and to declare party assets well before the elections.

The Election Commission of Pakistan on Friday issued a notice inviting parties attention to the said legal requirement.

It also warned that defaulters would not be allocated election symbols to block their participation in the electoral process.

Former Secretary Election Commission, Kanwar Dilshad told TheNation that under the 18th Amendment, all political parties had struck down the relevant provision of intra-party elections from the Political Parties Order, 2002, but the Supreme Court of Pakistan took suo moto action terming the amendment against the fundamental rights.

“As the SC is yet to deliver its verdict on the issue, those provisions are still part of the Political Parties Order, 2002 which have now been rightly invoked by the Commission”, he informed.

It has been learnt that PPP had held intra-party elections upto the zonal level way back in 2007, but the process was halted due to the sudden assassination of party Chairperson, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.

The ECP also did not bother at that time to see if all the contesting parties had held their intra-party elections.

According to PPP’s Constitution, it is responsibility of party’s central Secretary General to hold party elections after every five years.

Despite repeated contacts, Jehangir Badr, party’s Secretary General, was not available for his comment. Other senior party leaders were reluctant to speak on the issue.

PML-Q (Like-Minded Group), central spokesperson, Kashmala Tariq when reached said that Like-Minded intra-party polls have to be conducted and the party would soon announce a schedule for the party polls.

Other parties including PML-N, PML-Q, MQM, ANP, JI and JUI-F have already completed the process of party elections, and they are not required to go through this exercise again.    

The PML-N has supported the Election Commission on the intra-party elections and the declaration of their assets.

Talking to TheNation, Secretary General, PML-N, Iqbal Zafar Jhagra said that intra-party elections were a mandatory requirement of the Political Parties Order 2002 and his party supported the point of the view of the ECP.

As to the PML-N, he said, his party has been providing every record and details to the Commission ,whenever, it was required and it was ready to do it now.

He said that PML-N had held the intra-party elections, and hence it was not worried about the latest announcement by the ECP.

Jhagra further said that his party believed in the rule of law and the supremacy of the Constitution so it will support anything that goes to upheld the same.

Jhagra also sounded quite optimistic that elections will be held on time and those making efforts to get them delayed would be frustrated.

The two coalition partners, PML-Q and ANP, informed TheNation they had already held the party polls and the terms of their office-bearers would expire after the next general elections.

Senator Kamil Ali Agha, PML-Q, central spokesman talking to TheNation said that his party didn’t fall under the warning of the ECP, as its current office- bearers still had eight months in their offices.

Praising the ECP announcement, he said that it was a good omen because it was necessary for the political parties to hold intra-party polls to follow the true spirit of democracy.

ANP senior leader, Haji Adeel Khan told TheNation that he being the Chief Election Commissioner for party polls he held the elections in the first half of this year to elect office-bearers for another four years.

Arif Alvi, senior leader of the PTI, when contacted said that this was the first intra-party poll of the PTI and expected to complete in March, 2013.

Central Secretary Information, JI, Anwar Niazi said that his party had already completed the process of the intra-party polls and there was no need to hold undergo the process before completion of five years.

JUI-F, spokesperson Maulana Amjad said that according to party Constitution, elections in his party were held after every three years. They were last held in 2009 and would be due in April 2014. On declaration of assets, he said this condition had also been fulfilled, but the may be provided again if the ECP so requires.

Though no party office-bearer from MQM was available for comment, but credible sources confirmed that intra-party elections was a regular feature in the party.