PESHAWAR: An election appellate tribunal here on Monday set aside the decisions of several returning officers (ROs) and allowed many candidates, including former ministers and lawmakers, to contest the May 11 elections.
Noted among those allowed to contest polls were former Senator and key Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl leader Maulana Gul Naseeb, former provincial ministers Nawabzada Mohsin Ali Khan, Yousaf Ayub and Hafiz Akhtar Ali, former MNA Syed Allauddin, and Malik Qaseemuddin.
The tribunal comprising Justice Mian Fasihul Mulk, Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel and Justice Irshad Qaiser also rejected several appeals filed against acceptance of nomination papers of different candidates, including JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, former federal minister Najmuddin Khan, former provincial chief minister Pir Sabir Shah, former MNA from Bajaur Shahabuddin Khan and former provincial minister Sitara Ayaz.
Nomination papers of Maulana Gul Naseeb were rejected by ROs for NA-34 and PK-97 constituencies on the ground of non-verification of his graduation degree.
Qazi Mohammad Anwar, lawyer for the appellant, produced his client’s original graduation and master’s degrees from the University of Peshawar and their verification certificates issued by the university.
Similarly, papers of Yousaf Ayub, a former Haripur district nazim and leader of Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf, were rejected for PK-50 Haripur as objection was raised against him that in the 2002 elections, he had mentioned his qualification as graduate but now he claimed to be an intermediate and therefore, he was accused of giving false declaration.
His lawyer, Mian Mohibullah Kakakhel, contended that graduation was no longer a condition for contesting polls. He said the Constitution was clear on this point that unless any court had declared to the contrary that a person was honest and sagacious he could not be disqualified.
Two other candidates, Malik Qaseemuddin and Fredrick Azeem Ghauri, contesting against reserved seats for non-Muslims, were disqualified by the ROs on the ground of wrong declaration regarding their graduation degrees. The candidates claimed that graduation was no longer a condition and that they had not concealed anything from the RO.
The papers of Mohsin Ali Khan were rejected by the RO for PK-41, Karak on the ground that he was a loan defaulter of Bank of Khyber.
His lawyer, Aamir Jawed, said he was owner of Sheen Ghar (Pvt) Limited and cleared his dues. He added that Rs229 million was outstanding against MAKK (Mohammad Aslam Khan Khattak) Beverages owned by his wife and inherited from her father, and therefore, the appellant had nothing to do with it.
The tribunal accepted appeal filed by PPP’s Syed Allauddin Khan, whose papers were rejected for NA-30, Swat on the ground that he was dual national.
Mian Mohibullah, lawyer for the appellant, said he had acquired the US nationality in 2004 for being a victim of multiple diseases and had remained under treatment there.
Similarly, the tribunal rejected an appeal filed by voter Inamullah against Maulana Fazlur Rehman for NA-27, Lakki Marwat who alleged that he had concealed details about his income tax returns.
He said the candidate had submitted his income tax returns on March 21, 2013 for the first time, while under the law, he had to submit the same every year.
The tribunal observed that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) had cleared him and therefore, the tribunal had no authority to disqualify him.
A woman appellant, Tahira Naveed, had filed appeal against ex-provincial minister and a candidate on seats reserved for women, Sitara Ayaz, alleging that she had not mentioned in her nomination papers that a criminal case was pending against her in a court of the law. She said on the order of the minister, she was kept in illegal confinement following which a court had order registration of FIR against Ms Sitara.
Arshid Khan, lawyer for Ms Sitara, said the high court had suspended the said order of the subordinate court and that there was currently no criminal case against her.
The tribunal rejected three appeals filed against Pir Sabir Shah alleging that he had concealed his income in his nomination papers especially the money sent from outside by his followers.
His lawyer Samad Khan argued that the relevant bank manager was summoned and he had produced record of around $219,000 sent from abroad by his followers.
He added that in his nomination papers, he had mentioned the said details and had not concealed anything.
The tribunal also rejected an appeal filed by a voter against former MNA Shahabuddin Khan for NA-44, Bajaur Agency leveling charges against him of sending certain letters to an Afghan governor, an act against the ideology and integrity of Pakistan.
Qazi Mohammad Anwar, lawyer for the candidate, said he had disowned those documents and merely on basis of allegations, a person could not be disqualified.
Also, a PPPP candidate for NA-1, Peshawar Zulfiqar Afghani was also allowed to contest elections.
His lawyer, Abdul Lateef Yousafzai, said his client’s papers were rejected as he had remained employee of Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) and two years had not passed since he left that job.
He said SNGPL was a public limited company in which the federal government’s shares were 32 per cent only and therefore, serving there could not be declared as the government service.