Islamabad -  Much to the disappointment of estranged PPP leader Naheed Khan, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday upheld its earlier decision, allowing PPP and PPP Parliamentarian (PPPP) to contest bye-election in NA-120 Lahore on ‘arrow’ as election symbol.

A four-member commission headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice (retd) Sardar Muhammad Raza heard and unanimously rejected Naheed Khan’s plea to the ECP to withdraw its earlier decision, allowing the PPP and PPPP to contest the bye-election on arrow symbol.

Naheed Khan along with her husband Safdar Abbasi appeared and argued that the ECP could not take any decision about the activities of the PPP and the PPPP in a sub juice matter. The ECP, however, told her that she may approach the Supreme Court against its decision.

Naheed Khan moved to ECP after the PPP and the PPPP had filed an application in the election commission seeking to contest-by-election in NA-120 Lahore jointly with a common election symbol of the arrow which the ECP allowed.

Faisal Mir, a PPP candidate, is contesting the by-election from NA-120 as a joint candidate of PPP and PPPP with the election symbol arrow.

The PPP is headed by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari while the PPPP is headed by former president Asif Ali Zardari.

Ms Khan, a close aide to former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, had formed a political party called PPP Workers and registered it with the ECP under the Political Parties Order 2002 earlier this year and since then, she has been challenging both the PPP and PPPP at different judicial forums.

She moved to the Supreme Court earlier this year with a plea to overturn the Islamabad High Court’s February 6 ruling, which had rejected her petition seeking PPP’s title for her own political party.

“The petitioner feels helpless, humiliated and frustrated when the ECP against all norms of justice, equity and fair play allotted the name of the Pakistan People’s Party to the same person who also heads another party namely the Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians,” Naheed Khan had pleaded.

She had earlier filed a petition in the ECP to declare the 2013 general election illegal and to seek the PPP’s title for her own party. The ECP had dismissed her plea after which she had approached the IHC in May 2013.

In her petition before the apex court moved through senior counsel Iftikhar Gillani, Ms Khan has pleaded that the high court had rejected her petition erroneously in a discriminatory manner.

She recalled that former PM Benazir Bhutto had awarded her a ticket to contest election from NA-38 Rawalpindi-IIL in 2002, electoral laws were amended and since the PPP was not listed with the ECP, it was not allowed to contest the election. Subsequently, PPP leaders established another political party called PPP-P on March 4, 2013.

Five years after Ms Bhutto’s assassination, the party faced a vacuum of leadership as its politics remained confined to a few families and affluent households, she claimed. A majority of party workers, who enjoyed considerable influence within the party and were associated with Ms Bhutto, were set aside by Asif Zardari, she had alleged.

She highlighted how she and her husband former senator Safdar Abbasi, as well as other political workers, faced hardship after Ms Bhutto’s assassination.

While Mr Zardari was president, the petition recalled, a writ petition and a contempt of court application were filed in the Lahore High Court against him, requesting that he be restrained from the dual responsibilities of holding the office of president and participating in political activities as PPP Co-chairperson.

Back then, Mr Zardari’s counsel had contended that the PPP was not a political party but could, at best, be described as an association which may be formed by any person under Article 17 of the Constitution.

Ms Khan’s petition claimed that this stance had not only negated the political struggle of PPP die-hard workers but also it was disrespectful to the memory of its founding members and its martyrs.

She contended that in its order, the IHC had failed to take into account the ECP’s mistake of assuming without evidence that since Ms Khan was a member of the PPP-P, her request to form a party could not be processed under Article 5 (3) of the Political Parties Order 2002.

Such a finding was not only against the law but also against facts, pleaded Ms Khan, who added that the petitioner had never been a member of the PPP-P and that the IHC had erred in making this factual determination against her.

She said that as per the ECP records, there was no political party registered under the title of PPP when she had applied for assuming the name and style of the PPP on March 4, 2013, after complying with all legal formalities and requirements of the ECP.