As scrutiny ends, PTI faces ‘unprecedented wave’ of rejections of nominations

  • Papers of PTI founder, vice chairman, Asad Qaiser, Swati, Shehryar Afridi and others rejected
  • PTI demands SC take notice of worst interference in electoral process by ‘state machinery’
  • Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar expresses surprise, saying ‘This is not an election but a selection’

LAHORE: As scrutiny of nominations concludes on Saturday, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) top tier leadership was affected by a “massive, unprecedented wave of rejections of nomination papers,” including that of its incarcerated founder Imran Khan which the party described as worst interference in the electoral process by “state machinery as an open state terrorism.”

PTI Central Information Secretary strongly criticized the politically-motivated rejection of the nomination papers of PTI candidates on flimsy grounds, demanding the Supreme Court (SC) to take notice of the situation to frustrate the nefarious plan of the state apparatus to manipulate the elections.

ECP Punjab officials confirmed that nomination papers of PTI’s founder were rejected for a National Assembly constituency from the provincial capital and his hometown Mianwali.

The former prime minister had filed his nomination papers from Lahore’s NA-122 and Mianwali’s NA-89 constituencies ahead of the upcoming polls slated for February 8, 2024, while PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif’s papers have been accepted for NA-130 in Lahore.

The development is being seen as a major blow to the party, whose leadership is already struggling to stand ground for the scheduled general and facing a plethora of cases, especially pertaining to the May 9 riots — with senior leaders, including Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi and others, behind the bars.

“The PTI founder has been convicted,” the returning officer (RO) assigned to scrutinize the nomination papers for NA-122 constituency said, explaining the basis of the decision, dealing a blow to the PTI ahead of the polls.

The objections, raised by PML-N’s Mian Naseer, had referred to Khan’s five-year disqualification in the Toshakhana case wherein the electoral body had found him guilty of corrupt practices under Section 167 of the Elections Act, 2017.

“PTI founder’s proposer and seconder do not belong to NA-122,” the objection added.

From Toshakhana’s disqualification to having an illegitimate daughter and defaulting on Rs3.6 million social security funds, multiple objections were raised on Khan’s nomination papers filed from his NA-89 Mianwali stronghold — a constituency which he has won previous elections from.

Concurring with the objections, the returning officer rejected the former prime minister’s nomination papers.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi, son and daughter’s nominations rejected

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) vice chairman and former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s nomination papers have been rejected from NA 151 (Multan) and NA 214 (Tharparkar).

As per details, the nomination papers of incarcerated PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi were rejected whereas the nomination papers of 21 other candidates from NA 151 were approved.

While rejecting the nomination papers of Shah Mehmood Qureshi and his son Zain Qureshi, the returning officer stated that No Dues Certificate was missing from the PTI leaders’ nomination papers.

Moreover, the returning officer also rejected the nomination papers of Shah Mehmood’s daughter Mehr Bano Qureshi and son Zain Qureshi from NA 151.

Meanwhile, former federal minister and PTI leader Hammad Azhar’s nomination papers were rejected from PP-172.

However, the PTI founder and his associates can appeal against the rejection of their nomination papers by January 3, which will be decided upon by the Appellate Tribunal by January 10. The electoral body will publish the revised list of candidates on January 11.

Azam Swati from NA-15 and Zulfi Bukhari nomination papers rejected

The nomination papers of Azam Swati and Zulfi Bukhari were also rejected earlier in the day.

Former federal minister and PTI’s leader Azam Khan Swati filed had filed nominations for NA-15 Mansehra were rejected on Saturday.

According to details, objections were raised that Azam Swati was wanted in different cases.

It was objected that Azam Swati has submitted affidavit but did not appear himself.

After completion of arguments of lawyers from both sides, the returning officer rejected nominations of the PTI leader.

Upon rejection of Swati’s papers, PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif’s counsel Jahangir Jadoon Advocate told the journalists in Mansehra that it was essential for the candidate contesting polls to be present in the country.

Jadoon, who filed objections against Swati, said the PTI leader was only asked to appear before the RO after which the objections would be withdrawn.

The RO later confirmed that the PTI leader’s nomination papers were rejected from NA-15.

Swati’s lawyer Sohail Swati said Azam Khan’s papers were rejected claiming his signatures to be fake and raising objection on him being an absconder. He said they would approach the election tribunal against the decision.

It is pertinent to mention here that the scrutiny of the nomination papers filed by the candidates to contest general elections 2024 will continue until December 30 (Saturday).

Appeals against the acceptance or rejection of nomination papers can be submitted until January 3 and decisions on these appeals will be made by January 10.

The list of candidates will be displayed on the 11th of January, and candidates will have the option to withdraw by January 12.

The electoral symbols will be allotted on January 13, and polling for the general elections will be held on February 8.

Bukhari, on the other hand, said his papers were not being accepted claiming that his signatures were not genuine, which he termed “ridiculous”. The close aide of PTI founder Imran Khan said he even had them notarised and counter signed by the oath commission.

Announcing to move court against the decision, Bukhari also alleged that six people including his lawyers, proposers and seconders had been abducted.

“My lawyers, proposers and seconders have been abducted from inside. No one else was allowed in. A complete violation of justice and rule of law. This is not an election it’s a joke like the jokers in the care taker govt. Going to court!” the PTI leader wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

On December 26, the PML-N supremo’s nomination papers for the NA-130 constituency in Lahore were approved by the ECP without any objection.

It should be noted that today is the last day of scrutiny of nomination papers submitted by candidates aspiring to contest general elections 2024.

Nominations of PTI candidates rejected in NA-71 Sialkot

The nomination papers of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Umar Dar and his mother Rehana Imtiaz were rejected from National Assembly Constituency NA-71 Sialkot while nomination papers of Umar Dar’s wife, Aruba Dar, also met the similar fate. The rejections come as PTI leaders submitted nomination papers against Khawaja Asif.

Apart from Imran, a number of other senior PTI leaders’ nomination papers were also reportedly rejected, with the party alleging widespread misconduct by ROs towards its candidates and their proposers.

Senior PTI leader and former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser said: “Today, the nomination papers of all the senior leaders of PTI, including me, were rejected. These are just tricks to make Nawaz Sharif the prime minister.”

He said the party would challenge the rejections in the courts.

“Up and down the country, state machinery is in full swing against PTI’s candidates whose proposers and seconders or they themselves are being openly harassed, assaulted and pushed back from ROs’ offices,” Barrister Gohar said.

He termed the events the “worst kind of misuse of authority and abuse of process” and the “flagrant failure of ECP in performance of its constitutional duties”.

PTI Secretary General Omar Ayub condemned what he said was the “politically motivated rejection of nomination papers” for Murad Saeed, Sahibzada Sighbatullah, Dr Amjad Khan, Fazal Hakim Khan, Mian Sharafat and Salimur Rahman.

He said such “pre-poll rigging” would cast the transparency of the upcoming polls into question.

“With the way state apparatus, led by a disgraceful ECP and CEC (chief election commissioner), has first obstructed the submission of papers and then maneuvered to have the nomination papers of PTI candidates rejected on fake and flimsy grounds speaks volumes of the fraudulent elections that we are headed for,” said PTI Information Secretary Raoof Hasan.

Speaking in an interview on Geo News show Naya Pakistan, PTI Senior Vice President Latif Khosa said “not a single” PML-N candidate was rejected while party vice chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his family, and party president Parvez Elahi, Moonis Elahi and their family’s nomination papers were also rejected.

He added that not just the PTI, but the nominations of Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) President Sardar Akhtar Mengal and Grand Democratic Alliance leaders Fehmida Mirza and Zulfiqar Mirza were also rejected.

He claimed that even if the current rejections were not reversed, the party had covering candidates available in “every constituency”.

“Our freedoms are vanishing,” said PTI Senior Vice President Sher Afzal Marwat.

PTI Punjab President Hammad Azhar said there was a “method to the madness”, alleging that the party’s strongest candidates were targeted during the nomination and scrutiny phase.

PTI leaders Taimur Jhagra and Zulfi Bukhari also claimed that their nomination papers were rejected.

Both the leaders said they would take legal recourse against the rejection.

Meanwhile, with a flurry of posts on its timeline recounting the rejection of various leaders or various instances of disruptions at RO offices, the PTI said that almost 90 per cent of the nominations from its important leaders were rejected.

PTI leader Moonis Elahi alleged that lawyers were also “abducted” along with nomination papers from the Gujrat RO’s office.

According to Gujrat District Police Officer Asad Muzaffar, the police had nothing to do with the RO office and were only present there to maintain law and order.

He said the police did not arrest anyone and Elahi was throwing a “false allegation”.

The PTI was not the only one to cry foul as Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar expressed surprise that the final list of candidates from Islamabad was still not released by 6pm.

“This is not an election but a selection.”

Activist and lawyer Jibran Nasir said: “A huge price is being paid by the system for putting the PML-N on the throne of Punjab. Be it the police, the bureaucracy, the election commission or the judiciary, every institution has been made highly controversial and the public’s trust in all of them is eroding.”

Saleem Jadoon
Saleem Jadoon
News Editor at Pakistan Today

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