ISLAMABAD – The Election Commission of Pakistan has barred Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf from using its election symbol ‘bat’ in any future by-elections.

A written directive has been formally forwarded to all the four provincial election commissions not to allot ‘bat’ to PTI candidates for its failure to hold intra-party elections.

The Election Commission cited ‘Section 12 of the Political Parties Order 2002’, as a reason for the stern action, that compels political parties to hold intra-party elections as per their constitution.

Section 12 of the order reads: “The party leader of each political party shall, within seven days of completion of the intra-party elections, submit a certificate under his signatures to the Election Commission to the effect that the elections were held in accordance with the constitution of the party and this Order to elect the party leader and other office-bearers at the federal, provincial and local levels, wherever applicable.”

After the ECP’s instructions, even the ticket holders of the PTI can not contest elections on ‘bat’ symbol. They will now have to file nomination papers as independent candidates.

PTI was also deprived of its election symbol for the Chakwal bye-elections but it got relief from Rawalpindi bench of Lahore High Court at the eleventh hour, although the party lost to PML-N.

The party conducted its last intra-party elections on March 23, 2013, and according to its own constitution, it was supposed to conduct the exercise by March 23, 2017, which it did not.

The 2013 intra-party elections also became controversial after an inquiry tribunal comprising members of the party and legal luminary Justice Wajihuddin endorsed the allegations regarding rigging.

PTI supremo Imran Khan dissolved the tribunal that created a rift between Mr Khan and Justice Wajihuddin, which ultimately led to the ouster of the latter from the party.