Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has labeled the Peshawar High Court’s (PHC) recent decision about the iconic bat symbol of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) as “pre-poll rigging”.

Last week, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) nullified PTI’s internal elections and revoked their bat symbol. However, on Tuesday, the PHC suspended the ECP’s declaration, prompting strong reactions from PML-N leaders.

“Keeping in view the urgency, that a political party has been denuded of its symbol, meaning hearby that aspirants from the general public who were willing to vote for the petitioners’ party were divested of their right to vote as per their choice,” Justice Kamran Hayat Miankhel ruled.


PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, while addressing an event in Karachi on Thursday, called the PHC’s order “an attack” on the election commission’s authority.

“How can the Peshawar High Court give an order that affects Pakistan? There are candidates, who are in some way, related to the judge. I believe that the judge should have recused himself from the bench based on his relationship,” he said.

The scales of justice, the former prime minister said, were being titled for a “ladla” (blue-eyed boy). “The kind of decisions that are being issued are concerning for us. We expect justice from the judiciary.”

Reacting to the PHC verdict, PML-N senior leader Rana Sanaullah accused the court of engaging in “pre-poll rigging and attack on the ECP,” asserting that the ruling violated the Election Act 2017. Sanaullah claimed that the judge’s cousin, a PTI candidate, influenced the decision.

PML-N Senior Vice-President Maryam Nawaz condemned the PHC ruling, describing it as an attack on the constitutional powers of the ECP.

“The [PHC] judge gave relief to his cousin’s party.”
In her statement, PML-N Senior Vice-President Maryam Nawaz blasted the PHC ruling and termed the single bench verdict tantamount to an attack on the ECP’s constitutional powers.
“Fake and fraudulent intra-party elections [of PTI] have been declared ‘halal’. The ruling is the victory of the selection but not the election.”
Firing a fresh salvo at the incarcerated PTI founder, Maryam, who is also the party’s chief organiser, said: “Those who seek a level-playing field are not ready to give the same to anybody within their party.”

Reacting to the PHC ruling, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman told journalists in Islamabad that an atmosphere of “judicial martial law” was created in the country.

In a separate development, the ECP filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the PHC’s ruling on the appointment of a returning officer for a provincial assembly constituency. The ECP questioned whether the high court’s order interfered with its constitutional and statutory duties, emphasizing the importance of maintaining the election process.

The PHC’s decision to suspend the appointment of a returning officer has sparked legal challenges, with the ECP urging the Supreme Court to set aside the order for the sake of justice and the electoral process.