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PML-N finally decides on Ashraf Gujjar

Updated August 13, 2013

ISLAMABAD, Aug 12: Lady luck smiles on Ashraf Gujjar Advocate as Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) finally declared him its candidate for bye-elections in NA-48 (Islamabad).

PML-N Secretary General Iqbal Zafar Jhagra in a statement on Monday directed the office-bearers and workers of party in the federal capital to fully participate in Gujjar’s election campaign.

The statement was apparently meant to remove any confusion that may divide the party’s vote bank in the election, and came when the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) took up former MNA Anjum Aqeel Khan’s plea for restoration of his nomination papers.

Anjum Aqeel Khan had filed a petition before the ECP seeking restoration of his candidature as PML-N’s official candidate since his nomination papers had been withdrawn by his counsel without his consent.

Jhagra said party’s central leaders will also address public meetings in connection with Gujjar’s election campaign.

Anjum Aqeel Khan said he was unaware of any such decision. He, however, said he would abide by any decision taken by the party leadership.

The drop scene of the episode, it is believed, is expected on Tuesday when Anjum Aqeel will finally pull out of the race by withdrawing the plea for inclusion of his name in the list of validly nominated candidates.

Chaudhry Mohammad Ashraf Gujjar when contacted expressed the hope that the party statement would bring all rumours to an end.

Meanwhile, the ECP on Monday issued notices to all the 22 contesting candidates from NA-48 to explain their viewpoint on Anjum Aqeel Khan’s plea for restoration of his nomination papers.

Senior lawyer and PML-N leader Syez Zafar Ali Shah, who represented Anjum Aqeel Khan before the commission disowned the notice for withdrawal of nomination papers by Khan.

He said he (Aqeel) never authorised any counsel nor signed any document to withdraw his nomination papers.

He asserted that under section 16 (1) of the representation of people act (ROPA) 1976 any validly nominated candidate may by ‘notice in writing signed by him’ and delivered to the returning officer on or before the withdrawal date either by the candidate himself or through an advocate duly authorized in writing by him, withdraw his candidature.

Even this authorisation has to be attested by oath commissioner or notary public.

He argued that the notice submitted with the Returning Officer seeking withdrawal of nomination papers of Anjum Aqeel Khan did not bear his signatures, as required under the law.

He also argued that the returning officer was required under section 16 (3) of ROPA to satisfy himself that the signature on the notice is that of the candidate, but no such effort was made.

The Returning Officer ignored the legal procedure and simply wrote ‘allowed’ on an unsigned notice filed by an advocate.

He said in fact the name of Anjum Aqeel Khan had erroneously been added to the notice of withdrawal of some other candidates submitted by Mohammad Anwar Dar, the counsel for Mr Aqeel.

He said an affidavit in this behalf was also submitted to the returning officer, but he rejected the plea for restoration of nomination papers of Anjum Aqeel Khan.

The returning officer Shahrukh Arjumand while rejecting the plea of Anjum Aqeel Khan had observed that the power of attorney (wakalatnama) duly signed by the candidate specifically authorised Muhammad Anwar Dar Advocate to withdraw his nomination papers and the written application which is considered a valid notice was signed by the authorised advocate on behalf of Anjum Aqeel Khan.

“The copy of CNIC belonging to the candidate was also annexed with the withdrawal notice which further validates its authencity,” he wrote in his order passed on July 30.