PTI decides to reclaim ‘batsman’ symbol from rival
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), in principle, decided on Friday to challenge the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) decision to allocate the symbol of ‘batsman’ to its splinter group PTI-Nazriati.
However, PTI is yet to decide whether to file a petition with the ECP or move the high court, PTI sources told The Express Tribune.
Political parties with names similar to mainstream parties are common but there is likelihood that such groups can confuse voters if their election symbols are also identical.
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More than 327 political parties are registered with the ECP and many of them have similar names, with abbreviations matching those of popular parties.
The ECP is cautious when it comes to allocating symbols to a party: it tries to ensure distinctive symbols.
This time around, it seems that ECP disregarded this principle while allotting the symbol of ‘batsman’ to a newly-registered party.
Interestingly, the ECP issued a notification on June 6, days before the retirement of four members who are completing their five-year terms on June 11.
Some PTI dissidents applied to register their faction with a suffix PTI-N. The ECP enlisted it and allocated them the symbol they sought.
This symbol, PTI sources said, had greatly hurt the party during last year’s local government elections when candidates were allotted ‘batsman’ symbol in many local government constituencies.
PTI claims that their political opponents, especially PML-N had been pitching candidates with almost the same symbol in key by-elections to damage the PTI candidate’s prospects.
One such candidate was fielded in NA-153 by-elections in December last year, Jahangir Khan Tareen told The Express Tribune.
Earlier, PTI moved the Lahore High Court and challenged ECP’s decision of allocating this symbol to several independent candidates in local government elections.
Umar Sarfraz Cheema, who was then PTI’s deputy chief organizer in Punjab, maintained that LHC had ordered ECP to remove the ‘batsman’ symbol and allocate the candidates concerned some other symbol within 10 days.
However, the ECP did not follow the order, claiming that election symbols for LG elections were proposed by the provincial local government department. The commission also contended that they had already sent election material for printing and any change in the ballot papers would delay polling.
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Cheema maintained that in many LG constituencies, where PTI candidates were in strong positions, incumbent PML-N government in connivance with election officials fielded candidates with ‘batsman’ symbol to confuse voters.
He said although no candidate with ‘batsman’ symbol won, but they definitely cost PTI votes.
According to the June 6 ECP notification, PTI-N has been permanently allotted batsman symbol.
In an almost similar incident some time ago, an independent candidate was awarded ‘cat’ symbol. He was next to a PML-N candidate with ‘tiger’ symbol on ballot paper. PML-N later complained that many of its votes went to the candidate with ‘cat’ symbol.