The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Monday withdrew a petition seeking contempt proceedings against the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) over its alleged failure to ensure a level-playing field ahead of the upcoming elections, with counsel Latif Khosa the party did not wish to fight the case before Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa.
Subsequently, the court disposed of the plea after its withdrawal.
During today’s hearing, Khosa told CJP Isa his party had decided to approach the people’s court in this matter. “We do not want to fight this case in your court. Thank you very much,” he said, adding the apex court’s verdict upholding the ECP’s order to withdraw the PTI’s electoral symbol had deprived the party of the right to contest over 230 reserved seats.
“Do you want to continue this case or not?” asked the CJP, with Khosa saying his client had directed him to withdraw the plea. “We came to your court to get a level-playing field. The verdict that was announced on Jan. 13 at 11:30 p.m. shattered the PTI,” he said, claiming the CJP had “snatched the PTI’s field.” To this, the CJP remarked the court had merely implemented the law. “If you do not like the law, then change it,” he observed.
Stressing the PTI’s candidates would now contest as independent candidates, confusing the electorate, Khosa alleged the party was also denied a chance to contest with the PTI-Nazriati, whose chairman was “forced” to hold a press conference rejecting their agreement. “If you don’t accept the verdict then there’s nothing the [court] can do,” the CJP responded, adding the ECP had repeatedly directed the PTI to conduct intra-party polls but the party had failed to do so.
“You are destroying all the institutions of Pakistan,” CJP told Khosa, in a seeming reference to the PTI.
Another member of the three-member bench, Justice Musarrat Hilali, meanwhile questioned the ECP’s conduct and handling of the PTI ahead of the Feb. 8 polls. “The Election Commission is not fair. It is running behind one party,” she remarked, questioning why no other party had brought any case against the electoral body.
In its plea, the PTI had accused the ECP of violating the apex court’s order to ensure a level-playing field. In its reply, the ECP had said that 76 percent of the nomination papers filed by PTI candidates were accepted, adding all complaints lodged by it were addressed.