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PTI to seek justice from people?

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Islamabad (Imran Y. CHOUDHRY) :- Former Press Secretary to the President, Former Press Minister to the Embassy of Pakistan to France, Former MD, SRBC Mr. Qamar Bashir analysis :
Just a few days ago, I penned an article titled “PTI sans BAT and Playground,” a prediction crafted from my analysis of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s mindset. Despite my assessment, I fervently hoped that my predictions would not materialize. I wished for the Chief Justice to exhibit generosity, rise above personal grievances, and avoid succumbing to the instinct of seeking revenge for the presidential reference filed against him. My hope rested on the belief that he would embrace a magnanimous approach, considering the broader perspective and refraining from exploiting any errors or omissions on PTI’s defense team. My prayer was for the Chief Justice to safeguard the fundamental rights of citizens — the right to vote for the political party of their choice — and to ensure a party’s right to obtain an election symbol, facilitating voters without inconvenience, hassle, or confusion.

However, my optimism and the hopes of millions of PTI supporters were dashed when the Supreme Court adopted a narrow and parochial approach, opting for a whimsical decision. Based on errors and omissions by the PTI lawyers’ team and irregularities in intra-party elections, the court chose to mete out punishment not only to party leaders but also to their millions of voters. These voters, who were innocent of any wrongdoing, were deprived of the convenience of voting for their chosen party, facing instead hassle, confusion, and chaos.

The Supreme Court’s decision appeared to disregard the broader ramifications—a political party denied a level playing field and stripped of its iconic election symbol poses severe threats to the democratic process. The repercussions include unequal access to resources, campaign limitations, diminished electoral support, and potential voter suppression.

It is an established legal norm that the primary duty of the Supreme Court is to safeguard and uphold the fundamental rights of individuals enshrined in the constitution. The role of the Supreme Court requires a delicate balance: on one hand, it protects fundamental rights by ensuring the fairness of legal processes, and on the other hand, it may examine technicalities to maintain the integrity of legal proceedings and uphold the rule of law. Ultimately, the Supreme Court aims to dispense justice while respecting the legal principles and constitutional rights that constitute the foundation of the legal system.

There is a prevailing sentiment in various circles that, despite the merit in PTI’s plea, the Supreme Court ruled against them due to the perceived inadequacy of PTI’s legal team. Critics argue that the legal team was unprepared, lacked articulation, and failed to support arguments with sufficient documentary evidence, leading to PTI’s loss in the case. Conversely, this suggests that had PTI’s legal team presented a more effective case, the party could have secured victories in both the level playing field and election symbol matters. If this argument holds, it implies that the Supreme Court did not deliver justice solely because of the legal team’s inadequacy.

However, globally, it is an accepted legal norm that if a court recognizes the potential punishment of an innocent petitioner due to the incompetence of their legal team, the court’s duty is to adjudicate cases impartially and ensure justice prevails. Even if a petitioner has a weak defense, the court is obligated to evaluate the case based on presented arguments, apply the law, and make a fair decision.

In instances where the court perceives the petitioner’s weakness is due to legal team incompetence, in such situations, the court may even consider appointing legal representation for the petitioner, particularly when the weak defense stems from a lack of legal expertise. Ultimately, the Supreme Court’s overarching responsibility is to uphold justice, fairness, and the rule of law. The court should diligently strive to ensure all parties receive a fair hearing and that legal proceedings are conducted with due respect to the rights of those involved.

Expressing deep disappointment with the Chief Justice’s behavior, tenor, and evident bias against PTI, citing his perceived animosity towards Imran Khan and President Alvi, the party has declared its intention to bypass seeking justice from a figure they believe will deny it. Instead, they have opted to directly appeal to the people for justice, but it is easier said than done.

The loss of an election symbol poses significant challenges for a political party, transcending beyond mere visual identity. Without a recognizable symbol, the party grapples with difficulties in establishing a distinctive image, effectively communicating with voters, and navigating a campaign landscape where symbols hold pivotal roles. The resulting confusion among voters has the potential to undermine the party’s electoral support and is likely to give rise to a complex interplay of practical, legal, and strategic challenges requiring adept navigation.

PTI seems well aware of the challenges of a disrupted playing field, marked by the hassle of numerous symbols, but expresses confidence that their voters will bravely navigate these difficulties. The party commits to extensive efforts to guide, educate, and provide clear instructions to their supporters, especially through social media, ensuring they vote for PTI-nominated candidates across the nation. However, While the task is acknowledged as challenging, the party remains resolute in its determination to empower and mobilize its supporters for the upcoming elections.

However, the party must employ effective, result-oriented tactics and meticulously crafted plans to enhance its chances of success. Central to the campaign theme should be the emphasis on key issues and practical solutions, capturing voter attention and mitigating the absence of a visual symbol.

The party needs to articulate a compelling narrative that resonates with voters, placing a strong emphasis on clear messaging that highlights core values, vision, and policy proposals.

Proactive communication with voters about the change in the election symbol and the reasons behind it is paramount. Ensuring that information reaches voters through diverse channels is crucial for their awareness and the ability to easily identify the party on the ballot. Cultivating adaptability and resilience within the party’s leadership and campaign team is equally vital.

The willingness to adjust strategies based on feedback, changing circumstances, and emerging trends is essential to overcoming challenges and maintaining competitiveness in the electoral arena, even in the absence of the traditional symbol.

Moreover, developing alternative symbols or branding elements that preserve visual recognition can mitigate the impact of losing the iconic election symbol. Initiating distinctive branding, such as a unique logo or color scheme, serves as an alternative visual identifier, encapsulating the party’s identity and resonating effectively with voters.

Leveraging recognizable party figures who can act as symbols themselves proves to be an effective strategy for seeking endorsements from respected individuals and organizations. Personalities within the party who are well-known and respected can become powerful symbols in the absence of the traditional election symbol.

Exploring innovative campaign strategies that do not overly rely on visual symbols is key. Utilizing technology, such as social media campaigns, FM Radio, virtual town halls, and podcasts, facilitates connection with a diverse audience and effectively conveys the party’s message.

While capitalizing on complaints of lack of level playing field by other two major parties such as JUI and PPP, and complaining by PPP of allotment of different symbols to its candidates, PTI should seek forming alliances with disgruntled political entities and present a unified front to voters.

In the midst of this politically turbulent atmosphere, a silver lining emerges as politicians, with the exception of JUI, unite in their resolute stance against delaying or boycotting elections. Their collective realization that even the flaws of democracy surpass the perils of an outstanding dictatorship is not just pragmatic but commendable. The readiness of all political parties to confront any challenge, face potential electoral losses, and stand firm against the looming specter of martial law, a dark echo from the past, speaks volumes. This shared determination is poised to become the bedrock for fostering growth and development in the country, demonstrating a unified commitment to the democratic values that will shape its future.

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