Pakistan: Top court strips Imran Khan-led PTI of ‘bat’ symbol, rejects intra-party polls

Late on Saturday night, Pakistan’s Supreme Court resolved the long-running dispute over the selection of the iconic electoral emblem by declaring the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) intra-party votes null and unlawful and stripping the party of its “bat” poll symbol.

The Peshawar High Court’s (PHC) two-member bench’s decision to reinstate the cricket bat as the PTI party’s electoral symbol while recognizing its elections was appealed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

The ECP’s petition was considered by a three-judge panel made up of Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, and Justice Musarrat Hilali. The hearing was scheduled for late Saturday night, and the judges reserved their decision.

The top court declared in the ruling read by the chief justice that it will “set aside the PHC judgment and restore the ECP judgment,” which had declared the PTI intra-party elections unconstitutional and stripped the party of its symbol, the “bat”.

When the ECP rejected the party’s intra-party polling on December 22, the PTI lost its electoral symbol for the February 8 election, sparking the dispute around the emblem.

The party filed a motion with the Peshawar High Court, which on December 26 halted the ECP verdict with an interim order.

On January 3, the high court overturned the verdict after the election body appealed it.

Additionally, the PHC declared that a two-judge panel would consider the matter of the PTI bat symbol for hearing.

The ECP appealed the two-member panel’s decision to reinstate the “bat” as the PTI’s emblem at the highest court.

The PTI’s traditional symbol is a bat, and it is thought that stripping the party of this iconic sign would force its candidates to run on several platforms, which would confuse party members in outlying areas on election day.

Additionally, the PTI would not be granted its share of the reserved seats in the national and provincial assemblies, which are split into parties according to the proportionate representation of the seats they won in the elections, if they did not have a common emblem.

(With agency inputs)

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