Connect with us


Supreme Court Deals Blow to Fundamental Rights: PTI Stripped of ‘Bat’

In the lead-up to Elections, Pakistan’s Supreme Court has revoked the electoral symbol – a cricket bat – of PTI, the country’s largest political party paving the way for the most brazen & violent power grab by the military in decades.



Supreme Court Bat PTI

In the lead-up to Pakistan’s General Elections 2024, Pakistan’s Supreme Court has revoked the electoral symbol – a cricket bat – of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the country’s largest political party which has the support of over 70% of the populace. This ruling essentially paves the way for the most brazen & violent power grab by the military in decades and will enable blatant rigging before and during elections. 

Most legal observers following the proceedings in the Supreme Court have agreed that for the top court to endorse the Election Commission’s decision to deny PTI its electoral symbol is equivalent to denying the public their constitutional right to vote for the parties and political leaders of their choice. Following the Supreme Court’s verdict, lawyers and legal and political experts have expressed great disbelief, characterizing it as “excessive, punitive… and a huge blow to our fundamental rights,” leading to the “disenfranchisement of tens of millions of voters across Pakistan.” 

For context, the Election Commission of Pakistan had decided to strip PTI of its electoral symbol, the cricket bat, after deeming PTI’s intra-party elections null and void. This ruling was challenged in the Peshawar High Court by PTI, citing that the ECP is overstepping its mandate and interfering in PTI’s internal matters. After hearing the arguments, the Peshawar High Court ruled in PTI’s favour and suspended ECP’s ruling. However, the Election Commission then challenged this in the Supreme Court, which eventually decided to revoke PTI’s electoral symbol.

The Supreme Court’s decision to endorse ECP as it overstepped its mandate and stripped PTI of its electoral symbol will have serious consequences not just for the PTI, but also for the country’s democratic fibre:

  1. All PTI candidates now have to contest as “independents,” using individual symbols. This would substantially inflate the election expenses, which many candidates may not be able to bear. One of the PTI candidates, Salar Sultanzai, tweeted that he would require the PTI supporters to finance his election campaign, as he “[does not] have millions to spend on elections”
  2. PTI leaders and workers have been facing arrests and detentions over the past 1 year, and have therefore remained underground. PTI has, until now, mobilized and organised itself using a unified symbol, a bat, which would no longer be possible. Furthermore, PTI leaders are likely to encounter detentions and abductions should they emerge to campaign with their new symbol
  3. Individual party symbols will inevitably confuse the voters, particularly in areas with low literacy rates
  4. More significantly, all PTI-affiliated independents who win their seats will be notified as independent winners, and therefore, will have to join a party. This leaves the winning candidates vulnerable to being coerced into joining another party under duress or influence, paving the way for horse-trading. For instance, an independent who wins with the support of PTI can face abduction & torture, and be forced into joining another political party, thereby jeopardizing the entire democratic process
  5. PTI has also lost the prospect of ‘reserve seats.’ The National Assembly has 70 seats reserved for women and religious minorities. Assuming that PTI has 70% representation, it will miss out on 49 National Assembly seats. Similarly, there are 151 reserved seats in the provincial assemblies.

Perhaps what is most concerning about this decision, is that it demonstrates how the legal system in Pakistan is being used to advance the interests of the corrupt ruling elite. For nearly two years, PTI’s members, supporters and its founder, Imran Khan, have all been attacked with countless bogus cases, and many have even been arbitrarily arrested and left to languish in horrible conditions in jails for months, while the justice system slowly decides their fate. The internal matters of PTI have also come under disproportionate amounts of scrutiny compared to other parties, some of which are even led by convicted criminals who are allowed to campaign for their election campaigns without hurdles.

This whole scenario also makes one wonder if the country would be in the state it is today (rising fascism, declining democratic rights and economic turmoil) if the Election Commission and Supreme Court:

  1. Truly played their designated roles for the past two years;
  2.  Paid attention to and took action amid multiple, blatant violations of Pakistan’s Constitution and its explicit guidelines on the democratic process;
  3. Advanced justice and protected fundamental and democratic rights, not just for the ruling elite but of the masses who have been looking to them for hope and protection amid countless human rights violations by the state.

Ultimately, at a time when it has become clearer than ever that Pakistan’s institutions are stifling democracy in the country, it is up to the people of Pakistan to continue standing up for their rights and protecting their future.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *