The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)—in an apparent sign of its apprehension over Supreme Court proceedings regarding its electoral symbol—on Saturday directed all candidates with allocated tickets of the PTI-Nazriati group to submit them “immediately” to be able to contest elections under a unified symbol.
Chairman Akhtar Iqbal Dar formed the PTI-Nazriati in 2012 after developing differences with PTI founder Imran Khan. Speaking to media at the time, he had claimed the PTI was becoming a party of turncoats and he could no longer support it. In recent weeks, however, the PTI has repeatedly hinted at devising a ‘Plan B’ to be able to contest polls under a unified symbol, as it has faced repeated hurdles from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in contesting polls under the ‘cricket bat.’
A three-member bench of the apex court, led by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa, is currently hearing an appeal filed by the ECP against the Peshawar High Court (PHC) restoring the PTI’s electoral symbol, withdrawn over contested intra-party elections. While proceedings are ongoing, it is likely a verdict would be announced today (Saturday), with observers noting the results could go either way. Adding urgency to the matter is the election schedule issued by the ECP, which requires all candidates to submit party tickets on Jan. 13, as the electoral body would allot party symbols on this date.
Ahead of the PTI’s announcement, its social media accounts alleged returning officers were refusing to accept tickets allotted by the party and demanded the ECP take action to ensure its right to contest polls under a unified platform. With time running out, it has unveiled its long-rumored ‘Plan B,’ urging all candidates with tickets of the Nazriati group to submit them immediately. It has also urged all aspirants to register complaints over any kind of obstruction to the ECP and the relevant high courts.
The Nazriati group’s symbol is that of a ‘batsman,’ which the PTI believes would be an easy transition for supporters from the ‘cricket bat.’ It remains unclear what agreement has been inked between the Nazriati group and the PTI to facilitate the former, but under law, any candidates elected on its tickets would be bound to follow party policy as designated by Dar. There are also several constituencies where both parties have issued tickets and it remains unclear which side would take precedence if the reported agreement is implemented in full.