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Friday June 21, 2024

Third phase of election process gets under way

Appeals can be filed till Jan 3 and would be decided upon by Election Commission of Pakistan appellate tribunals by Jan 10

By News Desk & Our Correspondent
January 01, 2024
Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) Leader, Naseebullah Bazai submits his nomination papers to the returning officer to participate in the upcoming General Election 2024, in Quetta on Friday, December 29, 2023. — PPI
Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) Leader, Naseebullah Bazai submits his nomination papers to the returning officer to participate in the upcoming General Election 2024, in Quetta on Friday, December 29, 2023. — PPI

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: The third phase of the general election began on Sunday with the filing of appeals against rejection or acceptance of nomination papers by the returning officers (ROs) of the contesting candidates.

Any candidate or objector would file an appeal, under Section 63, to an appellate tribunal against the decision of the returning officer, rejecting or accepting a nomination paper.

The appeals can be filed till January 3 and would be decided upon by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) appellate tribunals by January 10.

Following that, the ECP would publish the revised and final lists of candidates on January 11, and the contesting candidates would be allotted electoral symbols on January 13.

Among 24 judges, nine judges would act as tribunals in Punjab, six in Sindh, five in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and two each in Balochistan and the federal capital.

“An Appellate Tribunal shall summarily decide an appeal filed under sub-section (1) within such time as may be notified by the Commission and any order passed on the appeal shall be final. (3) If the Appellate Tribunal is not able to decide the appeal within the time fixed by the Commission under sub-section (2), the appeal shall abate and the decision of the Returning Officer shall be final,” reads the section.

Earlier, the electoral body carried out scrutiny wherein it rejected the nomination papers of several political bigwigs mainly belonging to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), including former prime minister Imran Khan and ex-foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi among others.

The written order regarding Imran Khan’s nomination papers, filed for NA-122, a National Assembly seat in Lahore, says “He stands disqualified under Article 63(1)”. The judgment issued by the returning officer said Imran Khan was convicted by an additional sessions judge of Islamabad and his disqualification had not been suspended or declared null and void. It stated that the objections raised by the complainant against the candidature of Imran Khan were in accordance with the law.

Former MPA of PMLN Mian Naseer Ahmad had raised objections over the nomination papers of Imran Khan from NA-122, Lahore.

Meanwhile, the PTI announced approaching the Supreme Court (SC) to challenge the rejection of nomination papers of top party leaders.

Barrister Gohar Ali Khan, who became the PTI chairman when intra-party elections were nixed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), strongly criticised the “rejection of nomination papers of 380 PTI candidates” ahead of the general election slated for February 8, 2024.

Talking on Geo News programme Naya Pakistan on Sunday, he stressed that the former ruling party had already recommended appointing judicial officers to deal with the electoral affairs.

He also claimed that the nomination papers of mostly PTI leaders were rejected by the ECP whereas, overall, 550 candidates from other political parties faced rejection during scrutiny.

The erstwhile PTI chairman admitted that the nomination papers of some candidates were rejected on a technical basis. However, he alleged that an individual who filed an objection to Sanam Javed’s nomination was unaware of the details.

“We will file a petition in the Supreme Court and hope to see the judiciary’s intervention in this matter,” he announced.

Barrister Gohar categorically said that the PTI would not boycott the general elections at any cost.

Regarding the party tickets, he said that no consultation was made with incarcerated Imran Khan so far. “I was told by the [Adiala] jail authority to meet the PTI founder on Tuesday and Wednesday. I will consult Imran Khan regarding party tickets in the next meetings.”

Moreover, the former ruling party also claimed that almost 90pc of the nomination papers of its important leaders, including Imran Khan, were rejected, whereas, 100pc of the nomination papers of other parties were accepted.

“ROs, police, caretakers and ECP have played the role of facilitators for Nawaz Sharif in the first phase of elections itself. It’s absolutely shameful how the future of 250m people is being put in danger just in order to facilitate Nawaz Sharif,” alleged the PTI on its official X handle, formerly Twitter.

A day earlier, the ECP had rejected the nomination papers of several political bigwigs after culminating in the scrutiny stage.

In a major setback for the PTI, the ECP rejected the nomination papers of its incarcerated founder Imran Khan — from NA-122 and NA-89 — along with party’s Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s from NA-150 and NA-151.

PTI leader and former Punjab health minister Dr Yasmin Rashid’s nomination papers from NA-130 were also rejected by the ECP, whereas Ejaz Chaudhry’s nomination papers failed to secure the ECP’s approval from NA-127.

The party’s nomination papers filed by PTI’s Mohammad Atif Khan (NA-22) and Naeem Haider Panjotha’s — Khan’s counsel— from NA-82, also failed to get approval from the top electoral body.

From NA-44, the ECP rejected PTI’s Ali Amin Gandapur’s documents — a decision the politician has announced to challenge in the high court tomorrow. From PP-172, ECP rejected PTI’s Hammad Azhar’s nomination papers.

Also, PTI founder Khan’s cousin Irfanullah Niazi’s nomination papers were rejected by the relevant RO from Bhakkar’s PP-90.

However, the candidates have been given a chance to file appeals against the Returning Officers (ROs).

The third phase of the general elections began on Sunday during which appeals can be filed against the returning officers’ decision to reject or accept the nomination papers of contesting candidates.

Meanwhile, PMLN leader Attaullah Tarar assailed the PTI for the May 9 incident, and warned that the country would face fasad [strife] if Imran Khan’s party formed the government again. He said the party activists carried out attacks on defence installations on May 9, and there was no guarantee they would not do so if the party comes to power again.

Criticizing Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, he said: “What kind of significant project had been completed in Karachi that now you [Bilawal] make your way to Lahore? How dare they [PPP] come to Lahore?”

He said: “Lahore is the stronghold of PMLN supremo Nawaz Sharif. The people of the city love Nawaz Sharif.”

Separately, PMLN senior leader Khawaja Saad Rafique asked the PTI to follow the right direction in a bid to get the “bat” symbol for the upcoming elections.

Addressing a workers convention in Lahore, the former railways minister said: “The PTI should underscore their contributions in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for the last 10 years. How could we rule the country for 40 years as the country witnessed martial law four times? The PTI founder was also a part of the martial law,” Rafiq added.

He said the PMLN was not against the presence of bat symbol on ballot paper. But the PTI would have to adopt a legal way to get it. Rafique praised the PMLN bigwigs, saying, “Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif are having the habit of talking less and delivering more for the sake of country’s prosperity.”