ISLAMABAD: The fear of strict scrutiny of nomination papers appears to have kept thousands of aspiring candidates away from the electoral arena with the number dropping to about two-thirds of those who had filed nomination papers in the previous general elections held in 2008.
Over 10,000 candidates filed the papers for 849 general seats of the national and provincial assemblies as the first phase of the electoral process was completed at the end of the extended deadline at Sunday midnight.
In 2008, over 15,000 candidates had filed the papers — over 10,000 for the provincial assemblies and around 5,000 for National Assembly seats.
Scrutiny of the papers will continue till April 7, according to the amended schedule announced by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
An ECP official said the returning officers would decide about accepting or rejecting a paper on the basis of reports provided by the organisations concerned about financial integrity of the candidate. A special cell comprising officials of the Federal Board of Revenue, State Bank, National Accountability Bureau, National Database and Registration Authority and the ECP has been set up to ensure that tax evaders, loan defaulters, beneficiaries of written-off loans and defaulters of government dues don’t enter the legislatures.
The official said that despite the time for scrutiny being less than the arduous task required, an efficient system had been put in place to manage it. “It is a gigantic task but we will meet the challenge.” He said those who managed to enter the assemblies by concealing facts would be under threat of prosecution and conviction entailing disqualification for committing corrupt practices.
For the first time, they were required to submit copies of their income and agricultural tax returns for three years, besides details of expenses on their foreign visits during the time and the expenses on their children studying abroad.
The candidates were required under Section 12(2) of the Representation of the People Act to file a declaration that no loan of Rs2 million or more obtained from any bank, financial institution, cooperative society or corporate body in their own or any of their dependents’ names, or any business concern mainly owned by them or their dependents stood unpaid for more than a year from the due date, or had been written off. A declaration about default in payment of government dues or utility charges in excess of Rs10,000 for over six months at the time of filing the papers was also required.
Under the definition provided in the law, loan means any loan, advance, credit or finance obtained or written off on or after Dec 31, 1985, but shall not include the loan the recovery of which has been delayed or suspended by any other order or of a court or tribunal, including the high courts and the Supreme Court.
Taxes include all those levied by the federal, provincial or local governments, but not those whose recovery has been stayed or suspended by a court or tribunal.
Government dues and utility charges include rent, charges of rest houses or lodges owned by the federal, provincial or local governments or corporations established or controlled by them, except those stayed by judicial orders.
The ECP official said the candidates are also required to submit a list of their dependents which would be verified through the family tree stored in the Nadra database.
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PROMINENT political leaders who filed nomination papers for various seats by Sunday midnight include the following:
Nawaz Sharif NA 68 Sargodha, NA 120 Lahore and NA 123 Lahore
Shahbaz Sharif NA 128 Lahore, NA 129 Lahore and NA 71 Mianwali
Imran Khan NA 1 Peshawar, NA 71 Mianwali, NA 56 Rawalpindi, NA 122 Lahore and NA 125 Lahore
Raja Pervez Ashraf NA 51 Rawalpindi
Chaudhry Nisar NA 52 Rawalpindi
Shaikh Rasheed NA 55 Rawalpindi
Pervez Musharraf NA 32 Chitral, NA 250 Karachi and NA 139 Kasur
Javed Hashmi NA 149 Multan, NA 120 Lahore, NA 122 Lahore and NA 126 Lahore
S. Mehmood Qureshi NA 148 Multan and NA 228 Umerkot
Qaim Ali Shah PS 29 Khairpur
Faryal Talpur NA 207 Larkana
Asfandyar Wali NA 7 Charsadda
Maulana Fazlur Rehman NA 25 D.I. Khan
Farooq Sattar NA 249 Karachi
Aslam Raisani PB 38 Mastung
Ameer Haider Hoti NA 9 Mardan and PK 23 Mardan
Nabeel Gabol NA 246 Karachi and NA 248 Karachi
Ghulam Ahmed Bilour NA 1 Peshawar
Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi NA 61 Chakwal and NA 105 Gujrat
Amin Faheem NA 218 Matiari
Niamatullah Khan NA 250 Karachi
Liaqat Baloch NA 126 Lahore
— Compiled by Jawaid Akhtar