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In a pivotal ruling on Saturday, the Supreme Court stripped the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) of its electoral symbol, the bat, effectively barring the party from participating in the upcoming general elections.
This decision not only poses challenges to the party’s campaign organization, with candidates potentially having varied symbols, but it also carries a profound consequence: the loss of reserved seats.
The National Assembly allocates a total of 70 reserved seats, comprising 60 for women and 10 for minorities, based on a party’s proportionate share of contested seats. In the 2018 election, PTI secured 33 reserved seats, including 28 for women and five for minorities. However, the party now faces the risk of forfeiting these additional seats due to the absence of an election symbol.
According to Election laws, a party can only be awarded reserved seats if it possesses an election symbol granted by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). Section 94 of the Election Rules 2017 outlines the process of allocating reserved seats to a party based on the proportion of seats won through the election. An explanatory note in the rule clarifies, “For this rule, the expression ‘political party’ means a political party to which a symbol has been allocated by the Commission.”
The ECP’s denial of the bat symbol, a decision affirmed by the Supreme Court, now leaves PTI unable to vie for a significant portion of the lower house’s seats, regardless of its performance in the upcoming election.