Pak's Top Poll Body Rejects Imran Khan Party's Request For Bat Symbol

In a huge setback to the party of Imran Khan, Pakistan's top election commisison on Friday rejected Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's organisational elections and its plea to have cricket bat as the electoral symbol for the February 8 general elections.

Pak's Top Poll Body Rejects Imran Khan Party's Request For Bat Symbol

In a huge setback to the party of Imran Khan, Pakistan's top election commisison on Friday rejected Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's organisational elections and its plea to have cricket bat as the electoral symbol for the February 8 general elections.

A five-member panel of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday reserved the verdict after concluding the hearing of multiple petitions filed by members of the PTI against the party elections held on December 2 in Peshawar.

The panel issued the reserved verdict on Friday, saying that the PTI failed to hold polls according to its party Constitution. It also ruled that the party cannot retain the bat as the electoral symbol.

With this decision, Gohar Khan, a close aide of jailed former prime minister Imran Khan, 71, lost his position as chairman of PTI, days after his appointment.

Imran Khan, being a former iconic international cricketer, is considered synonymous with the cricket bat. He is lodged in Adiala Jail at Rawalpindi facing multiple cases.

After the ECP judgment, the PTI can either challenge it in the Supreme Court or it can field its candidate as independents. It can also enter into an alliance with another party to allow its candidates use the symbol of that party for elections.

Several petitioners led by PTI's estranged former leader Akbar S Ahmad challenged the election in the ECP by blaming the party for carrying out a selection process in the name of party election, aiming at throwing out party workers to give the reins to a few lawyers.

The ECP panel led by the Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja had reserved the verdict after hearing arguments by the rival parties.

Earlier, following an order by the ECP to organise polls within the party in order to retain cricket bat as party symbol, the PTI held the intra-party polls, electing Barrister Gohar Khan, who replaced Imran Khan as PTI chairman.

Imran Khan had decided to stay away from party elections as it would have invited a legal challenge by his opponents on the grounds that he was disqualified by the ECP in the Toshakhana corruption case.

The verdict was issued hours after a delegation of the PTI met the ECP official earlier on Friday following a directive by the Supreme Court on a complaint that the party was not being provided a level playing field.