Islamabad [Pakistan], December 8 (ANI): The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) issued a notice to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Friday alleging the party's intra-party elections were "rigged and fraudulent", Dawn reported.

The ECP issued a notice to the party in response to the recent plea filed by estranged PTI founding member Akbar S Babar who alleged that the party intends to throw out party workers and give the reins to lawyers.

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Babar approached the commission last week, challenging the conduct of intra-party elections that resulted in Barrister Gohar Khan replacing Imran Khan as PTI chairman.

Gohar was elected as the new party chairman after being nominated by Imran for the intra-party election, conducted on December 2 on an ECP directive.

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However, the party was on the receiving end of sharp criticism over the polls as Babar announced that he would challenge the entire process in a court of law. He had alleged that the PTI had carried out a selection process aimed at throwing out party workers to give the reins to a few lawyers, according to Dawn.

Meanwhile, several leaders of Pakistan mainstream parties, including the PML-N and PPP, also questioned the legitimacy of the intra-party elections.

Babar had penned a letter to Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja. He had said that after the commission directed the party to hold the polls, the PTI core committee issued a press release saying that preparations were complete and announced Niazullah Niazi as the PTI CEC.

Babar's lawyer, Syed Ahmed Hasan, highlighted that the ECP had ordered intra-party polls in accordance with the party's constitution. However, he pointed out the absence of a voter list and a nomination mechanism, stating, "The party's constitution makes no mention of an election programme".

In response, an ECP member sought a clarification on it. Hasan stated, "The party's election commissioner has been keeping access to the database of the party with him."

After the hearing, the ECP issued a notice to the PTI, seeking its response to the objections raised in the pleas. The hearing was adjourned until Dec 12.

Following the hearing, a small group of protesters gathered outside of the ECP office in Islamabad. Brandishing placards bearing slogans calling for a redo of the PTI's intra-party polls, the demonstrators were met by police who prevented them from entering through the main gate.

The protesters voiced their discontent through chants, proclaiming messages such as "fake elections are unacceptable, re-elections must be held."

In his plea against the PTI's intra-party elections, Babar said that after the commission directed the party to hold the polls, the PTI core committee issued a press release saying that preparations were complete and announced Niazullah Niazi as the PTI CEC.

Babar said the press release made no mention of any other names of the PTI Federal Election Commission or share other details of the polls such as the election rules, regulations, detailed schedule of elections, nomination timeline and various other aspects.

"It is time that the charade of holding rigged and manipulated intra-party elections must end. All major political parties must be vigorously scrutinised under the relevant laws to allow credible and competent leadership to emerge from within political parties. This is the only way forward for democracy to deliver and meet the challenges confronting society," Dawn quoted Babar as saying. (ANI)

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