The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Friday announced it is postponing its intra-party elections, slated for Feb. 5, just a day after it issued a schedule for their conduct.
In a statement to media, party leader Gohar Ali Khan said the decision came on the instructions of PTI founder Imran Khan. “Intra-party elections can divert the attention of candidates and voters from the general elections,” he said, noting the party’s workers and leaders were currently focused on the upcoming Feb. 8 elections.
Reportedly, the party is now considering undertaking the exercise immediately after the general elections.
Just a day earlier, the party’s central media department had issued a schedule for the intra-party polls under newly-appointed Federal Election Commissioner Raoof Hasan. Under the schedule, the polls were to be conducted on Feb. 5 with results being announced on Feb. 6. The decision appears to put a damper on the impression that the PTI was expediting intra-party polls to ensure it could secure a presence in Parliament and receive its share in reserved seats for women and minorities.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court upheld an Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) order withdrawing the PTI’s electoral symbol over contested intra-party polls. As a consequence, the party’s candidates are all contesting the general elections as “independents” with separate symbols. According to constitutional experts, the party would struggle to prevent such candidates—if elected—from defecting to other parties, as without a legally elected leadership it lacks any officials to exercise the defection clause.