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Supreme Court hears PTI plea seeking level-playing field ahead of elections

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court of Pakistan began hearing a petition filed by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), seeking contempt of court proceedings against the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for allegedly failing to address the party’s concerns regarding a level-playing field ahead of the February 8 general elections.

The three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa and including Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Musrat Hilali, is overseeing the proceedings, which are being broadcast live on the Supreme Court’s website and YouTube channel.

PTI lawyer Latif Khosa is presenting arguments on behalf of Advocate Shoaib Shaheen, who filed the appeal in court. The party had initially raised concerns about a fair electoral environment in a petition under Article 184(3) of the Constitution. In response, the Supreme Court directed the ECP on December 22 to address the PTI’s concerns.

Despite assurances from the ECP to address the grievances, the PTI filed another petition on December 26, alleging contempt of court against the electoral body for not ensuring a level-playing field. The party claimed that the ECP had failed to implement the court’s directions, leading to continued harassment and arrests of PTI candidates.

The recent application accuses the ECP secretary of not complying with the court’s December 22 verdict and points to the Punjab Inspector General of Police as the “mastermind” behind actions against the PTI. The party seeks action against those responsible for violating the court’s order and requests that its candidates be allowed to hold rallies and political gatherings.

In preparation for the hearing, the PTI submitted additional documents to the Supreme Court, providing evidence of the alleged denial of a level-playing field. The documents highlighted the rejection of nomination papers for 668 PTI candidates, along with 56 incidents of nomination papers being snatched, and the arrest of seconders and proposers of PTI candidates across the country.

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