Lahore, Jan 1 (PTI) The acceptance of PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif’s nomination papers from Lahore’s National Assembly seat for the general elections was on Monday challenged by senior members of jailed former premier Imran Khan’s party, saying the three-time former prime minister was disqualified for life by the apex court in 2017.
Khan’s party approached the appellate tribunal after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) rejected the nomination papers of Khan and 90 per cent of important leaders of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party. The ECP, however, approved the candidature of Sharif from two National Assembly seats from Mansahara and Lahore.
The returning officers who are bureaucrats have en masse rejected the nomination papers of the PTI leaders from across the country apparently on the direction of the military establishment.
On Monday, several PTI leaders including former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, PTI President Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, former federal ministers Moonis Elahi and Zartaj Gul challenged the rejection of their papers in the election tribunals of the high court.
The Returning Officers have rejected the nomination papers of a record of over 3,500 candidates for the national and provincial assembly seats.
On Monday, Advocate Ishtiaq Ahmad filed an appeal before the Lahore High Court’s appellate tribunal challenging the candidature of Sharif for being declared disqualified for lifetime by the Supreme Court.
“The acceptance of Nawaz Sharif’s paper is illegal and unlawful as in 2017 the SC had disqualified him for lifetime in the Panama Papers case,” Advocate Ahmad said and added that under the law of the land, the 73-year-old Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader can’t contest Feb 8 polls.
Sharif is already being tipped as the prime minister by the military establishment for the fourth time.
According to political observers, the military has removed all legal and other hurdles on his way to becoming the premier for a record fourth time.
“The military establishment is making sure that Imran Khan and his party couldn’t even contest the polls and all required measures and tactics it has made so far have fully exposed the military,” they said.
Meanwhile, the ECP claimed that the nomination papers of Imran Khan for two National Assembly seats in Mianwali and Lahore cities were rejected on “moral” and other grounds including his conviction in the Toshakhana corruption case.
The preliminary list of candidates will be displayed on Jan 11 and candidates can withdraw their nomination papers by the next day.
The electoral symbols will be allotted on Jan 13 while polling for the general elections will be held on Feb 8.
The PTI has termed the rejection of nomination papers of most of its candidates including its founder Imran Khan on flimsy grounds as “state terrorism.” “Returning officers are accomplices & reason why PTI had requested ROs from the Judiciary & not bureaucracy. Some group members may not be aware but bureaucracy including deputy commissioners signing illegal restraining orders for PTI leadership have been appointed ROs by the interim setup, adding more hostility to the already perpetuated situation,” a PTI spokesperson said.
PTI Chairman Gohar Khan said the state machinery is in full swing against PTI’s candidates whose proposers and seconders or themselves are being openly harassed, assaulted and pushed back from ROs’ offices.
“This is the worst kind of misuse of authority and abuse of process. It is a flagrant failure of ECP in the performance of its constitutional duties. We strongly condemn and deplore this. But Tigers will stay steadfast till February 08 and thereafter.” PTI MZ ZH AKJ ZH ZH