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From Balloon To Baigan: PTI's Unconventional Election Symbols

The Election Commission has assigned a series of unconventional symbols to their candidates, who are contesting independently due to the ban on their party symbol.

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Supporters of Pakistani cricket star-turned-politician and head of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan holds a giant cricket bat with the colours and initials of the party | Photo: Getty Images
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With Imran Khan in jail, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) finds itself confronted with another challenge as it prepares for general elections on February 8. The absence of their traditional party symbol, the bat.

The Election Commission has assigned a series of unconventional symbols to their candidates, who are contesting independently due to the ban on their party symbol.

Among the bizarre symbols allotted to PTI candidates are a harmonium, airplane, hookah, keychain, fakhta (a type of bird), peacock, bowl, cricket stamps, charpai (a traditional bed), wicket, racket, pomegranate, and peacock violin.

In the city of Multan, the electoral symbols for some PTI candidates include a clock, a shoe, and even a tunnel, adding to the peculiar nature of the situation.

A PTI supporter has asked people to remember: “NA 186 Dera Ghazi Khan Candidate Name: Mahar Sajjad Hussain Symbol: Beingan”. Latif Khosa, PTI's National Assembly candidate in constituency NA 122, has been assigned the electoral symbol 'K', while Haji Farhat Abbas, PTI's Provincial Assembly candidate in constituency PA 157, is represented by a shuttlecock.

Karachi-based gynecologist Samrina Hashmi has tweeted a list of symbols assigned to PTI Karachi MNA candidates, as officially designated by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). The symbols include Peacock, Racket, Table Tennis Racket, Mic, Camera, Bottle, Fork, Bringal/Baigan, Bed, Table Tennis Racket, Wicket, and Dove

In response to the challenges posed by wide variety of symbols, PTI has taken proactive steps. They have launched a symbol search feature in the #Raabta App, which can be accessed without internet. This initiative is seen as a critical resource to search for candidate symbols, particularly if the regime enforces an internet shutdown during the election period.

"After Tehreek-e-Insaf's symbol has been taken away, now it is the responsibility of every worker of Tehreek-e-Insaaf to become Imran Khan himself and run the campaign of every candidate nominated by Imran Khan. In this regard, it is now the responsibility of every worker to inform at least 20 people on a daily basis of both the symbols of both the National and Provincial Assembly candidates of Tehreek-e-Insaf of their constituency,” the PTI tweet reads.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) removed the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) electoral symbol, a cricket bat, on technical grounds that the party had not held intra-party elections, which is a requirement under law and the  party violated the constitution and election laws during its internal organizational elections.

The PTI challenged the ruling in the top court, but the country's Supreme Court rejected its attempt to retain the symbol.

Michael Kugelman, the director of the South Asia Institute at Washington's Wilson Center tweeted about it saying,  "PTI leaders jailed. PTI electoral candidates' nomination papers denied. PTI online rallies/fundraisers blocked…PTI denied [the] use of [the] election symbol. This is brazen, not subtle, pre-polls rigging," Kugelman said on X.

 However, the PTI has been saying despite being stripped of its iconic bat symbol, its candidates, who are contesting as independents, using individual symbols, would be able to win the polls.

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