“You snatched PTI’s field”.Khosa speak CJP SCP verdict — which deprived the former ruling party of its 'bat' symbol. Sardar Latif Khosa

Our job is to conduct elections as per the law: CJP Qazi Faez Isa

Says PTI was repeatedly asked to prove the intra-party elections which it failed to do

Says there is nothing we can do if the PTI does not like the court’s order

PTI withdraws contempt plea filed against Interior Secretary & others for not providing level playing field

ISLAMABAD   (  Web News  )

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Monday withdrew its petition seeking contempt proceedings against the Interior Secretary Aftab Akbar Durrani and others over its alleged failure to ensure a level-playing field ahead of the upcoming elections.

PTI moved the Supreme Court on December 26 last year with the plea. However, the top court on Monday disposed of the plea after the withdrawal of the petition.

A three-member apex court bench led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa, and comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Musarrat Hilali heard the case. During the hearing on Monday, PTI lawyer Sardar Muhammad Latif Khan Khosa told Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa that his party will approach the court of 240 million in this matter. “We do not want to fight this case in court. Thank you very much,” said Khosa.

He said that the Supreme Court’s January 13 verdict — which deprived the former ruling party of its ‘bat’ symbol — forced the party to not contest on 230 reserved seats.

“Do you want to continue this case or not?” asked CJP Isa. At this, Khosa replied that he under directions to withdraw the plea.

“We came to your court to get a level-playing field. The verdict that was announced on January 13 at 11:30 PM shattered the PTI,” he said, adding that “you snatched PTI’s field”.

Khosa argued that the ECP can only withdraw the election symbol; however, one of the parties is being banned from the parliament.

“All of the PTI candidates will now contest as independent candidates which will spread confusion.”

The PTI lawyer also told the court that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Nazriyati’s (PTI-N) leader, with whom they had made a deal, was also “picked up and forced to hold a press conference”.

At this, CJP Isa said: “If you don’t accept the verdict then he could do nothing.” He added that the ECP continuously directed the PTI to conduct intra-party polls but they were still not held. “You are destroying all the institutions of Pakistan,” CJP told Khosa.

Meanwhile, during the hearing, Justice Musarrat Hilali raised reservations over the ECP’s conduct and its handling of matters related to the PTI ahead of the polls on February 8.

“The Election Commission is not fair. It is running behind one party,” she remarked. Justice Hilali then pointed out whether the electoral body can see any other parties or not. “Does the Election Commission not see other parties?”

Justice Hilali questioned PTI counsel Sardar Latif Khosa about the news of PTI’s alliance with another party. Khosa in response claimed that the PTI was not even being allowed to forge an alliance with any other party.

“We came to the top court seeking a level-playing field, but the [SC’s] decision has shattered the party by taking away its electoral symbol, with it depriving the party of 230 seats across the country,” said Khosa.

Justice Hilali further inquired the counsel over his remarks that the ECP was only targeting the PTI and not any other party.

Khosa cited the example of the electoral watchdog returning the Awami National Party (ANP) its electoral symbol while revoking the PTI’s.

At this, CJP Isa clarified to the PTI lawyer that the ANP was returned the symbol because, as per the party’s constitution, it had time to hold intra-party polls.

The CJP Isa stressed on Khosa to clearly state whether his party wished to pursue the case further, or not.

Chief justice remarked that the PTI was repeatedly asked to prove the intra-party elections which it failed to do. “There is nothing we can do if the PTI does not like the court’s order” said CJP Isa.

The chief justice stated that the SC passed relevant orders regarding ensuring a level-playing field was provided to the party, mentioning that the police personnel involved in the raid at PTI Chairman Gauhar Ali Khan’s residence have been suspended. He further said that despite asking the PTI leader to write a letter in case he was not satisfied with the police inquiry, no such response had been submitted as yet.

“On the PTI’s request, the court raised the matter of elections and fixed the polling date within 12 days,” said the chief justice,

“Our job is to conduct elections as per the law, not become the government or Election Commission” CJP Isa remarked. He added that if the PTI had any objection regarding any other political party then it should bring forth a petition.

Addressing the top judge, Khosa said, “We ran a movement for your sake, sacrificed our blood. If a difficult time arrives even today, we are ready to sacrifice our lives.

“We do not make the law [but] have it implemented. If you do not like the law, then change it,” chief justice said. The court dismissed the petition as withdrawn.

Speaking outside the apex court, Latif Khosa lamented that the SC’s verdict of upholding the ECP decision had “destroyed democracy”, terming it a “black day for democracy”. He added it was “equivalent to depriving the 25 million Pakistanis of their right of franchise”.

He recalled incidents of arrests as well as those where nomination papers of PTI candidates were snatched. The PTI leader said that in his response to the SC, the Islamabad police chief had denied those incidents and asserted that there had been “no unpleasant” events.

“What can be a bigger joke than my son being arrested from outside my office as he was also a candidate and the [Lahore] High Court’s Justice Baqar Najafi sahib observed that he was arrested in relation to the elections and was based on mala fide,” the PTI leader said.

He added that when he had urged Justice Isa to see the affidavits and CDs attached as evidence of such incidents, he had replied “no, not right now”.

Speaking about the electoral symbol saga, Khosa asserted that the PTI held its intra-party polls according to its party constitution within the 20-day period the ECP had given it. Referring to the petitioners who had challenged the intra-party elections, he said, “Those 13 people lied [as if] they are representing our 20-25 million members. They are not even PTI members.

“Can Akbar S. Babar compete with Imran Khan? He cannot even compete with an ordinary party worker. […] Tell me, has any candidate come forward against Bilawal, Asif Ali Zardari [or] Nawaz Sharif? You can see all parties,” the lawyer said.

The PTI leader said that when a political party’s executive body makes a decision to appoint its office-holders, “it usually happens that no one challenges it”. Khosa further said that talks with the PTI-N chief had been under way for “many days” and seven seats that he had asked for had also been given to his party. “Keep in mind that the party has not been banned and God-willing, it would be elected and will rise.”