The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Monday lamented the allotment of “wrong” electoral symbols to seven of its candidates in Punjab, with party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari accusing the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) of attempting to keep its opponents out of the running.
Addressing media in Qamber Shahadkot, Bhutto-Zardari said the party would approach the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and, if necessary, the courts to address the errors. Alleging the PMLN was taking advantage of the withdrawal of the PTI’s electoral symbol by the ECP, he claimed the rival party was now targeting PPP candidates in Punjab.
He said seven PPP candidates from NA-59, NA-122, PP-20, PP-21, PP-119, PP-163, and NA-127 were denied the PPP’s symbol and were contesting as independents. “The PMLN’s politics and their intentions are not democratic anymore,” he claimed, adding this was the party’s “same old politics.” Alleging the PMLN wanted to “play alone” by keeping its out of the running, he reiterated claims of Nawaz Sharif’s party “being brought into” power in 1990, 1992, 1997, and 2013.
Stressing such tactics would not deter him, Bhutto-Zardari vowed that the PPP’s symbol of the “arrow” would “hunt” the “tiger”—the PMLN’s symbol—in Punjab.
A day earlier, PPP Senator Taj Haider wrote two separate letters to the ECP over the denial of the arrow symbol to candidates of PP-163 and PP-119. Haider, in-charge of the PPP’s election monitoring cell, said he wished to bring to the chief election commissioner’s notice the trend of his party’s ticket-holders being denied their election symbol, pushing them into the contest as independent candidates.
“Our serious concerns over such denials may kindly be noted,” he said in the letter, stressing that Section 66 of the Elections Act, 2017 was clear that if a candidate declared their affiliation with a particular political party and provided a certificate confirming this, they would be allotted the prescribed symbol. “There is no ambiguity in this Section of the Elections Act 2017, and it should be followed in letter and spirit,” he said, adding the “system of our constitutional democracy is built around the basic structure of political parties.”
He also noted that independent candidates allowed for “an unfortunate window for horse trading and exerting pressures on the elected independents,” adding citizens “citizens should be encouraged to vote on the performance, policies and manifestos of political parties.” Not allotting symbols to candidates affiliated with parties, he continued, violated provisions of Article 33 of the Constitution and the necessary and sufficient requirements of Section 66 of the Election Act 2017.