LAHORE - The Election Commission of Pakistan on Thursday accepted nomination papers of 53 candidates for by-election on NA-120 seat that fell vacant due to disqualification of former premier Nawaz Sharif.

According to the ECP, 65 nomination papers were filed by 58 candidates for NA-120. However, 55 people could qualify to contest the by-polls.

Begum Kalsoom Nawaz of ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Dr Yasmin Rashid of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Faisal Mir of Pakistan Peoples Party are the most prominent contenders.

The nominations of their covering candidates Hafiz Numan (PML-N) and Andleeb Abbas (PTI) were also accepted.

District Election Commissioner Muhammad Shahid, who is the returning officer (RO) for this national assembly constituency, passed the order after holding scrutiny of all nomination papers.

Nine people, including PPP’s Faisal Mir, PTI’s Dr Yasmin and PAT’s Ishtiaq Chaudhary, had moved objections against candidature of Begum Kalsoom Nawaz - the wife of the deposed prime minister.

Kalsoom, being in London, could not personally appear before the RO and was represented by Senator Asif Saeed Kirmani and a legal team of her party.

There was a messy situation inside RO’s room because of the gathering of candidates, their counsels and a larger number of supporters of PML-N and rival parties.

Outside the room too there was a huge rush of political activists. Strict security arraignments had been made on the occasion.

Objections to Kalsoom’s candidature

RO Shahid individually asked every petitioner to advance his/her arguments to prove allegations levelled against Begum Kalsoom’s nomination.

PPP’s Faisal Mir argued that Kalsoom Nawaz concealed truth about her financial resources. He objected that she had Iqama (residence permit) from FZE Company in UAE and used to withdraw salary from that company but she did not mention it in her nomination papers.

He also said that PML-N was registered in the name of deposed PM Nawaz Sharif; therefore, she could not contest election on the ticket of the party. Moreover, the PPP candidate said that Kalsoom had mis-stated in the nomination papers by claiming that she and her spouse did not have ownership of any company.

He said Kalsoom on the one hand claimed tax registration certificate in care of Chaudhry Sugar Mills but on the other she claimed to be a housewife and not owning any company. He asked what her actual status was in the company with which she was having tax registration.

Mir also raised the question that why and how Sardar Yaqoob was made president of the party when PML-N Chairman Raja Zafarul Haq had not hold any meeting of the party for the purpose.

PAT counsel Ishtiaq Ch advocate appeared before the RO but could not speak there because of the suffocation and congestion in the room. He said he had already submitted written objection against Kalsoom’s candidature.

Counsel of another petitioner told the RO that Begum Kalsoom Nawaz had claimed that she had ornaments worth Rs100,000 while her spouse wears watches of millions of rupees. She also claimed of having a that house in Murree of Rs7,500,000 value, the counsel said. He questioned that how it was possible that the wife of the three-time prime minister had ornaments of just Rs100,000.

The Sharif family did not submit correct details about their financial assets or resources, despite the Supreme Court’s asking for months and therefore the court has ordered NAB to file corruption references against them, he said.

The counsel also said that Kalsoom did not mention her Iqama in nomination papers and she did not fill column of criminal record while there was a criminal case registered against her in Sindh province.

Khan Shahzad Khan, another petitioner, objected that Kalsoom Nawaz had claimed that she had never been a dependent of her spouse but the actual situation seemed otherwise. He said that a number of cases were pending with the NAB against Sharif family, therefore, her candidature should be stayed.

After hearing arguments of both parties, the returning officer, accepted the nomination papers of Kalsoom Nawaz.

An unidentified aged man supporting a beard objected to the presence of Additional Attorney General Naseer Bhutta, asking the RO that what he was doing there.

The candidates can file appeals against acceptance or rejection of nomination papers before the election tribunal until August 21.

August 24 has been fixed as the last date for appellate tribunal to decide the filed appeals while candidates could withdraw their nomination papers by August 25.

The Returning Officer will issue revised list of candidates on August 26 and the by-election will be held on September 17.

Begum Kalsoom, who was to appear before the RO yesterday at 3pm, left for London the same morning on flight PK-757 – reportedly medical treatment.

Talking to The Nation at the ECP premises, Hafiz Numan, the covering candidate of PML-N, said he did not know the purpose of Begum Kalsoom’s London visit. But he said she will return and contest the election.

The return ticket issued to Kalsoom mentions her return on September 23, after a 38 day stay, but party sources say she will be back in the first week of September after undergoing medical check-up for her joints and back problem. Sources say her London visit was already planned.

Accompanied by Muhammad Adnan Khan, Kalsoom reached airport quite before the departure time but she did not talk to the media.



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