ISLAMABAD - The highest decision-making body of the e Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Saturday made changes in the party constitution to pave the way for holding intra-party polls to fulfil a requirement under the Political Parties Order 2002.
The PTI Central Executive Committee (CEC) met under the chair of PTI chief Imran Khan after a long time. Some senior party leaders claimed that the CEC met to make some changes in the party constitution to make intra-party polls “simple”. However, independent observers believe that the move will also make the PTI's intra-party polls more ceremonious like other parties' intra-party polls only to fulfil the requirement of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
A couple of weeks ago, the ECP had barred the PTI from contesting the next polls on its election symbol 'bat' stating that the party had failed to hold intra-party polls even after four years as required under the Political Parties Order 2002. Under the order, it is mandatory for all political parties to hold such polls at least in three tiers.
Through the amendment, the PTI CEC has decided that intra-party elections would be held in phases, PTI's Central Media Department head Iftikhar Durrani said. So the election of 13 central positions of the party including the chairman, vice-chairman, secretary-general and regional presidents will be held on June 11 in the first phase, he said. The election would be held on the basis of secret balloting, he said adding that all members of the party would cast their votes through their mobile phone numbers.
Through another amendment, the powers of the chairman have been enhanced regarding holding intra-party polls and its office will issue all notifications.
The PTI has made another two important decisions with regard to intra-party polls — one is that the contest would be held among panels, not individuals like in the past and second, the election would be held in three tiers, central, provincial and district instead of five as was done in the past.
Imran Khan had been claiming in the past that his party would hold genuine intra-party polls contrary to the practice of other political parties. He announced intra-party polls last year but these were postponed because of increasing rifts within the party. “We are looking into all the matters of intra-party polls very minutely as the last polls held prior to 2013 general elections caused much rift within the party,” a party leader commented.
The CEC also discussed a number of recent developments including progress in the Panama Papers case, the conclusion of the Dawn leaks episode, progress in electoral reforms and internal party issues, said a statement issued by the party after the meeting.
At the outset, the meeting condemned the cowardly attack on Deputy Chairman Senate in Mastung in which 27 people were killed and more than 50 others injured and expressed grief and sorrow over the killing of labourers in Gawader.
Expressing heartfelt condolence with the bereaved families, the meeting called upon the provincial government to improve security in the province and also provide relief and assistance to the affected.
The meeting also took note of the Dawn leaks episode and felt that its conclusion has left many questions unanswered, the statement said. The meeting felt that this was not a matter just between the government and the armed forces but the entire nation was hurt by the slurs cast on the Pakistan Army.
The Dawn story contained a narrative that was anti-Pakistan and hurt the sentiments of every citizen. It was therefore critically important for the final inquiry report to be released to the public so that the nation knows what were the issues involved, who committed what manner of the breach and what was the basis of what is described as a final settlement. Keeping everything in the dark, the meeting felt, does not further the national interest.
Imran Khan while talking to the media after the meeting said that there were many similarities between the Dawn leaks episode and the memogate scandal as both were aimed at tarnishing the image of the country.
The meeting also discussed the on-going probe by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) into the Panama Papers case. “While the PTI has concerns about the potential influence of a sitting prime minister on an investigation being conducted by his subordinates, the party has complete faith in the Supreme Court and has accepted its decision to form a JIT to investigate the matter,” the state mentioned said. “However, it is critically important the JIT conducts its proceedings as transparently as possible. The people of Pakistan have a right to know and this right cannot be abridged by any notion of investigative secrecy. Secondly, it is also fundamental that the JIT completes its probe in the time frame assigned by the Supreme Court. Any delay will lead to suspicion that Nawaz Sharif and his family want to drag out the process to make it less effective.” Imran Khan also demanded that the proceedings of the JIT should be open so that the people could know what was happening on this front.
The CEC meeting also expressed grave concern over the treatment being meted out by the government to the farmers who were either unable to sell their wheat or being paid prices much below the official support price. It noted that ever since this government has come into power it has targeted the farming community and created such dire circumstances for them that their very existence has come under threat.
The CEC has also passed a resolution for giving rights to overseas Pakistanis and called for proper reforms to the electoral system in order to make upcoming elections free, fair and transparent. If the electoral reforms committee did not accept this proposal of giving voting rights to overseas Pakistanis in its meeting being held next week, we will go to some other forum, Khan said in his media talk. The resolution also asked PTI MNAs to raise the matter in the National Assembly.
PTI Secretary General Jehangir Tareen while convening the meeting said that the party faced multiple challenges including its organisation and steering national agenda. “It is high time that we organise ourselves to the grass roots level and prepare for a greater cause of eliminating corruption from the country for which our chairman has always stood tall and firm”, he added.
The CEC in its Saturday’s session deliberated exclusively upon the organisational and intra-party affairs and jointly approved a period of one month for intra-party elections. PTI Vice-Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi apprised the CEC of the proposed amendments to the constitution and stressed upon the need to make party constitution completely functional and implemented. The committee subsequently approved amendments to the constitution unanimously.
Imran Khan directed Chief Election Commissioner Senator Azam Khan Swati to hold intra-party elections within the stipulated period of one month in a fair, just and transparent method. He also said that the PTI was all ready and determined to face an unprecedented electoral contest in the form of general elections.