LAHORE/ISLAMABAD/SIALKOT/SARGODHA - PTI chief Imran Khan appears to be in a catch 22 situation as his nomination papers have not been cleared yet for any constituency.
The returning officers for three different national assembly constituencies have summoned him today, the last day for scrutiny of nominations, to explain his position regarding objections to his nomination papers.
These are NA-53 (Islamabad), NA-95 (Mianwali) and NA-131 (Lahore).
The RO for NA-131 said on Monday that those who had been claiming to bring a change in the country should respect the law of the land and appear in person to explain their position.
Earlier, Dr Babar Awan, the counsel for Khan, requested the RO not to summon his client, but he turned down his plea.
Justice and Democratic Party chief Iftikhar Muhammed Chaudhry had challenged the nomination papers of Khan.
Babar Awan said the same allegations had been levelled against his client before the general elections of 2013. He pleaded with the RO to reject the allegations and allow his client to contest election.
In another development, the returning officer for NA-125 Monday accepted nomination papers of former prime minster Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Safdar, rejecting all the objections levelled against her.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf candidate Dr Yasmin Rashid had challenged the nomination papers of Maryam. The lawyer of Dr Yasmin raised several objections to the nomination papers of Maryam, including bank loans, issuance of three passports and concealment of assets.
The rival candidate’s counsel claimed Maryam had not declared her agricultural land and other details of her assets in the nomination papers.
The returning officer reserved the verdict after hearing objections and arguments of Advocate Amjad Pervez Malik who represented the former premier’s daughter. Malik contended his client had declared all details in her nomination papers.
Maryam is contesting election from NA-125, a constituency of Lahore from where her mother Kulsoom Nawaz had won by-election in October 2017.
After a fierce contest between the candidates of the two rival political parties, Kulsoom, the former premier’s wife who is presently undergoing cancer treatment in London, had won back her husband’s seat after his disqualification, defeating PTI’s Dr Yasmin Rashid.
The NA-125 seat which was NA-120 before the fresh delimitations had fallen vacant after former premier Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification by the Supreme Court on July 28, 2017.
In the 2013 polls, Sharif won this NA seat. He was first elected from this constituency during the elections in 1985 held under Gen Zialul Haq. Benazir Bhutto-led Pakistan People’s Party and other opponents of the military regime had boycotted the non-party elections.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan Monday submitted a written reply to the objections challenging his nomination papers for NA-53, Islamabad.
The PTI chief did not appear before Returning Officer Muhammad Adnan and submitted his reply through his lawyer, terming all the allegations against him false and baseless.
Babar Awan, the counsel for Khan, appeared before the RO and submitted an application, seeking one-day exemption for his client from personal appearance. The RO accepted his application and summoned the PTI chief again on Tuesday (today).
Khan, in his reply, took the plea that the objections to his candidature were false and based on fraud as photocopied and unverified documents had been made the basis of the allegations. He maintained the purpose of the allegations against him was to carry out a media trial of the head of a political party.
Abdul Wahab, a candidate of Pakistan Justice and Democratic Party (PJDP), had filed objections to the PTI chief’s nomination papers. According to him, Imran Khan did not meet the criterion under articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution as far as the issue of Sita White and her daughter Tyrian was concerned.
Wahab had alleged that Khan had a baby girl, Tyrian, from Sita White without solemnising a wedding, so he did not meet the criterion laid down under articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution.
Meanwhile, the lawyer of former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi also appeared before the RO for scrutiny of his nomination papers. The RO deferred acceptance of Shahid Khaqan’s nomination papers until Tuesday (today) after directing his lawyer to submit his tax returns for 2015-16.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s nomination papers for NA-95 have been challenged by an independent candidate for the same National Assembly seat.
District Bar Association Sargodha President Ansar Abbas Baloch filed objections on behalf of independent candidate Manzoor Khan in the court of Returning Officer Tariq Mehmood of NA-95, Mianwali. He claimed Imran Khan’s signatures on the nomination papers were dubious and declared that Imran Khan was present in Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah on the day the nomination papers had been submitted. He added the signatures on the nomination papers did not match those affixed on his CNIC. The other seven objections were regarding concealment of information. The RO summoned PTI Chairman Imran Khan and independent candidate Manzoor Khan for today. The court will announce the decision on the same day.
Meanwhile, the returning officer accepted the nomination papers filed by PTI candidate Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan for NA-72, Sialkot-I. She had provided the required clearance certificates issued by the State Bank of Pakistan, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and other national institutions.
The returning officer concerned also accepted the nomination papers of PML-N candidate Khawaja Asif and PTI’s Usman Dar for NA-73 after hearing arguments from both the sides.
Similarly, former PTI MNA Ayesha Gulalai’s nomination papers for NA-53, Islamabad, were also challenged. Makhdoom Niaz contesting from the same constituency had challenged Gulalai’s nomination papers alleging she did not meet requirements of articles 62 and 63 because she had failed to give proof of harassment allegations against Imran Khan. He said she also did not get a case registered against the PTI chief. So she should be declared disqualified.
Responding to the objections, Gulalai submitted a written reply, clarifying a committee was formed to probe the harassment allegations; she appeared before the committee, but Khan did not show up.
After hearing her response, the RO reserved his decision on the nomination papers.
Imran’s candidacy in jeopardy
OUR STAFF REPORTERS