Thursday, June 20, 2024

Pakistani Flag Traders on Edge as Election Regulator Strips ‘Bat’ from Ex-PM Khan’s Party

Traders dealing in Pakistani flags are at risk of substantial losses after the Election Commission of Pakistan stripped former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party of its election symbol, a cricket bat, as reported on Friday.

On December 22, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) determined that the intra-party polls of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, conducted in December, violated regulations and the country’s election laws.

Consequently, the ECP nullified the polls, leading to the removal of PTI’s electoral symbol.

In response, the PTI sought relief from the Peshawar High Court (PHC) challenging the ECP’s decision. On December 26, the PHC temporarily suspended the ECP’s ruling, allowing the party to retain the bat symbol.

However, last week, the ECP filed a review petition in the PHC, leading the court to withdraw its stay on Wednesday and uphold the ECP’s decision to strip the party of its symbol.

As a last resort, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) filed a petition in the Supreme Court on Thursday to challenge the high court’s decision that led to the loss of its election symbol. While the party remains hopeful for relief from the apex court, flag traders are closely watching the developments, with the case expected to be taken up next week.

Flag traders, anticipating potential losses, are expressing concern over the situation. Shaikh Nisar Ahmed Parchamwala, CEO of VIP Flags, one of the major flag-makers in Pakistan, revealed that he has a stock of approximately 50,000 PTI flags featuring the cricket bat symbol. Financial losses loom if the party does not receive relief from the Supreme Court.

“We always maintain stock of party flags, and we have flags of almost all political parties ready,” Parcham wala stated, emphasizing the economic impact on flag sellers if the PTI loses its symbol.

Election symbols hold significant importance in Pakistan, especially given the country’s adult literacy rate of just 58 percent, according to World Bank data. The cricket bat symbol, representing former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s successful cricket career, is particularly iconic.

Flag costs range from Rs10 to Rs500 ($1.78), with traders noting potential financial setbacks if the cricket bat symbol is not retained.

Some flag sellers, like Jawad Jiwani, disclosed having a stock of over 100,000 PTI flags with the cricket bat symbol, underscoring the potential magnitude of losses if the symbol is not reinstated.

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