After losing iconic ‘bat’, PTI kicks off election campaign with rally at Karachi’s Sea View


KARACHI: A day after failure in all-out efforts to retain its iconic electoral symbol ‘bat’, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Sunday kicked off its campaign for the upcoming national-level polls with a rally led by its central leader Sher Afzal Marwat at Karachi’s Sea View beach.

The Imran Khan-founded party lost the legal battle on Saturday when the Supreme Court announced its verdict in the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) favour, depriving the former ruling party of its electoral symbol, which represented the party supremo’s life as a cricketer, just days ahead of the general elections.

With the apex court verdict, came the expiry of the deadline for allotment of electoral symbols to the political parties and the country’s top polls organising body allotted different symbols to the PTI candidates, who will now contest as independent contenders in the February 8 general elections, after being stripped of ‘bat’.

In Karachi, Marwat led the party’s first election rally this evening with a large number of participants in attendance, Geo News reported.

The gathering was announced by PTI leader Raja Azhar, who said that the party would begin its campaign from Sea View, which is a famous picnic point for Karachi’s citizens.

However, he complained that the police had placed barricades on the ways leading to the venue.

Later, the traffic police issued a clarification that the main track along the Sea View beach was temporarily blocked due to the political rally, but was restored soon after.

They said that there was no barricade on the roads towards the spot anymore.

The PTI took a major blow as the top court annulled the Peshawar High Court’s (PHC) January 10 order, which had provided a relief to the party by restoring ‘bat’ as its electoral symbol, on the ECP’s plea.

The electoral body had assailed the high court’s decision nullifying the commission’s order that barred the former ruling party from keeping its electoral symbol for the upcoming polls due to irregularities in their internal polls.

After a day-long hearing, the apex court set aside the PHC’s ruling and upheld the December 22 decision of the electoral body.

Following their failure in the highest court, PTI announced to contest the elections independently, since it no longer has a unified symbol.

“All PTI candidates will contest independently. We will issue a list of all our candidates with their election symbols,” PTI’s now-former chairman Barrister Gohar Ali Khan told journalists at the Supreme Court in Islamabad.

In his presser, Gohar noted that the top court’s order issued today was “controversial” and it had “deeply disappointed” him. He added that his party would challenge the Supreme Court’s verdict.

On an electoral map, the leaders of the Imran-led party appear haphazardly strewn, as an electoral symbol is crucial to any political party as voters are aware of which candidate to vote for on polling day, so the PTI might lose votes due to confusion among the people.

Some of the main PTI leaders who will contest elections on different symbols from Lahore are Yasmin Rashid from NA-130 with the symbol ‘laptop’, Salman Akram Raja on NA-128 with ‘racquet’, Latif Khosa has been given the English letter ‘K’ for NA-122 and Mian Azhar given ‘wicket’ for NA-129, according to Geo News.