LAHORE -  A PPP decision allowing its two leaders, Asif Ali Zardari and his son Bilawal Bhutto to contest by-elections on the same election symbol is most likely to open up a Pandora’s box landing the two into legal complications.

“After they file their nomination papers with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), they would be facing serious legal and political repercussions,” former ECP secretary Kanwar Muhammad Dilshad said yesterday.

Talking to The Nation, he pointed out that Asif Zardari was the President of the PPP- Parliamentarian while Bilawal Bhutto was Patron-in-Chief of the PPP, and both these parties were registered with the Election Commission as separate political entities.

Citing section 5 of Political Parties Order-2002, Dilshad said that no person could become member of two different parties at the same time, and consequently, could not use the platform of another party to contest election while remaining member of his own party.

According to the former ECP secretary, the father and the son will be issued two different electoral symbols. “Arrow could be the electoral symbol of Asif Zardari while Bilawal would get a different electoral symbol from the ECP,” he added.

Dilshad also said that at the time of filing of nomination papers, Zardari would be legally bound to declare his assets and wealth, bank accounts, both in Swiss banks and at home, moveable and immoveable property and Surrey Palace under clause 12 of Public Representation Act-1976.

In the columns of assets, he continued, Zardari would also be legally bound to declare Bilawal Houses in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, Sugar Mills and list of palaces in France. Bilawal would face similar legal bondages on filing his nomination papers, he said.

Dilshad said that despite removal of the condition of bachelor’s degree, Mr Zardari would still be legally bound to fill the relevant column in nomination paper that pertains to academic qualification. He would be in trouble even if he opts not to mention his bachelor’s degree whose authenticity had been a subject of debate in the past, Kanwar told this paper.

In his opinion, Bilawal would have no other option but to forego his position in the PPP if he wanted to contest election on the electoral symbol of ‘arrow’ which has been allotted to the PPP-P.

In case, Bilawal wins the by-election, he would be the lonely MNA from Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) as other MNAs and Senators are from Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarian (PPPP), he opined, adding that Bilawal might face problems for his nomination as leader of the opposition because the MQM is less likely to support his candidature given his harsh statements in the past against this party.

“As a matter of fact, both Zardaris have tied themselves to a bomb of electoral rules which will explode the moment they file their nomination papers,” he summed up his legal opinion.

 

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 07-Jan-2017 here.