Pakistan: No Hopes For Justice; PTI Withdraws Plea Seeking Level Playing Field In Elections


CJP Isa defends verdict on upholding ECP’s ruling to withdraw PTI’s electoral symbol; says there is nothing the SC can do if PTI does not like the court’s order

After a damning verdict which all but pushed the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) out of next month’s elections, the party has given up hope that the Supreme Court of Pakistan will ensure a “level-playing field” for it in the general elections.

Subsequently, the PTI on Monday withdrew a contempt of court petition it had filed in the top court seeking action against the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and other state functionaries for violating orders on providing all political parties with a level-playing field in the upcoming elections.

PTI’s counsel, Advocate Sardar Latif Khan Khosa, on Monday appeared before a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa and comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Musarrat Hilali.

A bench comprising the same judges had on Saturday set aside the Peshawar High Court’s (PHC) order and upheld a ruling from the ECP wherein the election symbol of ‘Bat’ was withdrawn from the PTI, and its intraparty election was annulled.

Khosa, a former governor of Punjab, expressed his party’s lack of trust on the bench.

When hearings on the case began, Advocate Khosa had approached the court seeking a level playing field. But after the top court’s unanimous decision on Saturday to snatch the electoral symbol of a party and 230 [reserved] seats across the country, Khosa said their confidence and trust had been shattered.

During Monday’s proceedings in the contempt of court petition, Justice Hilali asked about PTI’s doubts about the transparency of the upcoming general elections.

The PTI’s counsel responded that the elections would be unfair and the top court’s ruling would destroy democracy.

At this, Chief Justice Isa expressed his displeasure and asked Khosa not to blame the court based on past judgments. He added that the PTI was repeatedly asked to prove it held its intraparty elections in accordance with its constitution, but the party failed to do so. CJP Isa observed that there is nothing the court could do if the PTI does not like the court’s order.

Justice Hilali asked Khosa about reports that the PTI was striking an alliance with a faction, PTI-Nazriati. Khosa responded that the PTI was not even allowed to ally with any other group or party to secure a common symbol to contest elections.

Chief Justice Isa remarked that the ANP recovered its symbol because it held intraparty polls per the party’s constitution.

He, however, stressed that Khosa clearly stated whether his party wished to pursue the contempt case further or not.

At this, Advocate Khosa submitted that the top court’s verdict of January 13 had taken away the field from the PTI. He added that the ECP could only withdraw electoral symbols of parties, but in PTI’s case, an entire party has been virtually banned from parliament.

The chief justice remarked that the top court had passed orders to ensure the provision of a level playing field, adding that the police personnel involved in raiding the residence of PTI’s former chairman, Barrister Gohar Ali Khan, had been suspended.

CJP Isa further remarked that the court took up the matter of elections on PTI’s request and fixed a date for the polls. He further clarified that the court’s job was to ensure elections were conducted as per the law and not to become the government.

He added that if the PTI had any objections regarding any [undue favour to] other political party, then it should bring forth a petition on the specific matter.

Subsequently, the PTI requested to withdraw the petition.__Courtesy The Friday Times Pakistan