ISLAMABAD/LAHORE/QUETTA – The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) continued scrutiny of the nomination papers for elections on Saturday, accepting the papers of several heavyweight politicians while many others are keeping their figures crossed as the scrutiny process culminates today.
So far, the commission has received 23,698 nomination papers from the returning officers out of which 20,729 papers were sent back after initial scrutiny. Some prominent candidates also appeared before returning officers on Saturday.
The fate of all the prospective candidates would be sealed by the evening and it would be finally clear to everyone as to who are contesting the upcoming general polls and who would not.
Among the prominent politicians whose nominations have so far been accepted are Nawaz Sharif (from NA-68 and NA-119), Hamza Shahbaz (NA-119), Imran Khan (NA-56 and NA-122), Sheikh Rashid (NA-55), Fazlur Rehman (NA-24), Faryal Talpur (NA-207), Pervez Elahi and Ahmed Mukhtar (NA-105), Ghinwa Bhutto (NA-250), Arbab Ghulam Rahim (NA-229), Humayun Akhtar (NA-124) and Manzoor Wattoo (NA-164, 167).
The returning officers have also cleared the nomination papers of Fakhar Imam (NA-156), Bushra Aitzaz (NA-124), Sumsam Bukhari (NA-145), Mian Aslam (NA-48), Mir Baz Khetran (NA-263), Aftab Shaban Mirani (NA-202), Zafarullah Jamali (NA-266), Mahmood Khan Achakzai (NA-259 and NA-289) and Talal Bugti (NA-289).
Two applications objecting to the nomination of Nawaz Sharif for election contest in NA-68 were filed by Sohail Malik and Afshan Ameer. Sohail sought disqualification of Nawaz on the ground of Asghar Khan case wherein he has been accused of accepting money to forge an alliance against the PPP in 1990 elections. Afshan charged the respondent with occupying illegal property. But the allegations were overruled when the respondent’s counsel presented arguments and documentary evidence to negate the claims.
Former Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif for PP-247 Jampur have been accepted by the Election Commission on Saturday. One Afzal Azeem Pahat through a petition had sought disqualification of Shahbaz Sharif questioning his mental health. The objection was overruled and the papers of Shahbaz Sharif were accepted for contest in PP-247 Rajanpur.
Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan is contesting polls from NA-1 (Peshawar-II), NA-56 (Rawalpindi-VII), NA-71 (Mianwali-I), and NA-122 (Lahore-V) constituencies. Speaking to reporters at the Karachi Airport on Saturday, Imran said that the result of the polls would be similar to the outcome of the 1992 cricket World Cup, which Pakistan had won under his captaincy.
The PTI chief said that the deployment of the Army at polling stations was critical for security during the elections. He said that the democratic process would fail if the people could not cast votes due to security concerns. Regarding seat adjustment with other parties, he said that negotiations were underway concerning the matter.
Chief of Awami Muslim League (AML), Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, on Saturday withdrew his nomination papers for Rawalpindi’s NA-56 in accordance with his pledge to support PTI. Imran, in return, has assured Sheikh Rashid for his support in NA-55 for which Sheikh’s nomination papers were accepted on Saturday. Hanif Abbasi of the PML-N is expected to be Imran’s main rival in NA-56.
Objections have been raised over nomination papers of Pervez Musharraf for Karachi’s NA-250 constituency. Jamaat-e-Islami leader Niamatullah Khan, also a candidate in the same constituency, in his petition said that the former military dictator and All Pakistan Muslim League chief had suspended the constitution twice.
He also claimed that Musharraf had declared emergency in the country that was also against the constitution. The JI leader further claimed that Musharraf was unfit to contest elections in the light of Article 62, 63 of the constitution. Earlier, returning officer in Kasur’s NA-139 constituency rejected Musharraf’s nomination papers over objections from rival candidate Javed Kasuri.
Returning Officer Abdur Rehman Bodla on Saturday asked former foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar to produce her marriage certificate during the scrutiny of her nomination papers in Kot Addu for the NA-177 seat. During the course of scrutiny, RO pointed out that she appeared to be a defaulter of Rs56 millions in a mill she owned. Hina said the mill was owned by her husband Feroz Gulzar and she was holding only shares therein. The RO directed her to produce ‘Nikanama’ on Sunday, saying that otherwise her nomination papers will be rejected.