Walking the walk: PTI looks to Constitution for intra-party polls

Published: February 2, 2016
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PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS

PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: In a bid to prove that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) delivers on its promises, the Imran Khan-led reformist party is planning to invoke constitutional rules for candidates in intra-party elections.

“We shall apply articles 62 and 63 of the constitution on candidates running for the intra-party elections,” PTI election commission spokesperson Advocate Farrukh Dal told The Express Tribune.

Article 62 deals with qualifications for membership of parliament while Article 63 covers membership disqualification.

Though the schedule for the PTI’s second intra-party elections has yet to be finalised, it is likely that polling would take place in May, following completion of the ongoing membership campaign.

The membership drive is under way in all parts of the country, but Balochistan does not feature in the polls for the time being.

Dal claimed that the PTI was setting an example by holding unparalleled intra-party elections in the region — including India, the world’s largest democracy.

Not a single political party out of the six major parties of India has ever held intra-party elections, he added. “We are developing a democratic culture … but the burden of proof lies on the complainant.”

The PTI’s election commission has issued a code of conduct that states that candidates and their representatives, agents, campaign workers and supporters shall “avoid criticism of other candidates that has no bearing on their public activities, or that is based on unverified allegations or distortion — comments and not criticism must be confined to issues, policies, programmes and past record, and must respect the right of others to hold their own opinions”.

Dal, however, said the eligibility criteria were not finalised as yet. Asked about PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s role, he said the chairman’s office should be dissolved before issuing the polling schedule, adding that the chief election commissioner (CEC) would step into his shoes.

The party chairman is also supposed to follow the code of conduct, as violation of any provision shall result in the “termination of basic membership of the party by the CEC”.

The election commission has barred Imran from influencing the polling process, as no one is allowed to seek or claim support of officials, including the chairman.

However, PTI sources told The Express Tribune that Imran had been holding meetings with senior leaders in violation of the guidelines. “We cannot restrict the chairman from meeting party leaders,” Dal said in response to a question. However, he added, Imran would neither make speeches nor express support for any candidate during the intra-party elections.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 2nd, 2016.

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