Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) has only 350,000 members who are eligible to vote, despite its claims that the party’s registered members in Pakistan exceed 10 million, sources familiar with the matter revealed.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, PTI’s Central Information Secretary, Shafqat Mehmood, had claimed on October 25 that around 7 million PTI members will participate in the intra-party elections through the Short Message Service (SMS), scheduled from November 2 till the end of December.
All PTI members were asked to send an SMS on the official Election Commission of Pakistan number 8300 and confirm whether their vote was registered and then subsequently send an SMS on 80022, the PTI SMS group.
After the verification process, it was revealed that only 350,000 members were eligible to vote. In the aftermath of this setback, the PTI decided to hold its elections only in the Islamabad Capital Territory at first, sources said.
In August 2012, PTI had said its membership in Pakistan exceeded 10 million members, making it the largest political party in the country.
Party leaders hoped that the number would translate into votes at the general elections. It is pertinent to mention that PPP had won the last elections with approximately 10.5 million votes.
To put things into perspective, Karachi had more seats than any other city in the national and provincial legislatures, and has a total of 6.6 million registered voters. Only 3.9 million could be verified. A glaring 2.7 million entries were false. Similarly, Lahore has a total of 3.7 million registered voters. Among them 2.1 million have been declared genuine and the remaining 1.6 million could not be verified, PTI leaders claimed.
Mehmood told The Express Tribune that so far, 7 million people have responded through the SMS service. He said that there were standards set by the PTI to verify those members who will send an SMS to make sure they are eligible voters and ask the local union council of the place where they resided to prevent duplications or any other error.
He added that in the first phase, elections will be held in the Islamabad Capital Territory, followed by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in the second. Elections in the other three provinces will be held in the third phase.
The elections will first be conducted at the union council level, followed by the elections at the district, regional, provincial and national levels.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 31st, 2012.