PESHAWAR: Provincial Election Commissioner (PEC) Sharifullah on Monday accepted the nomination papers of adviser to the prime minister on finance and revenue Shaukat Tarin and three opposition candidates for the Senate seat vacated by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Senator Ayub Afridi.
The PEC, who is the returning officer for the polls to be held for the seat, rejected objections submitted against Mr Tarin by two rival candidates, who sought his disqualification from contesting polls on the ground that he had registered vote in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa a few days before the announcement of the election schedule.
The three other candidates included Shaukat Jamal Ameerzada of the Awami National Party, Zahir Shah of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl and Mohammad Saeed of the Pakistan Peoples Party.
Objections were filed against Mr Tarin by candidates Shaukat Jamal and Zahir Shah, whose lawyers insisted that under Article 62 (1)(C) of the Constitution, a candidate contesting for a seat from a particular province should be a registered voter in that province.
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They added that Mr Tarin didn’t belong to KP and that he had got his vote registered in Mardan district only a few days ago and obtained a new computerised national identity card with a residential address from the area.
Advocate Ali Gohar Durrani appeared for Mr Tarin and contended that his client hadn’t violated any constitutional provision while filing nomination papers for by-election and that his wife and in-laws belonged to Mardan.
He contended that the CNIC was issued to his client on Oct 28, while his vote was registered in Mardan on Nov 16.
Mr Durrani contended that the election schedule was issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan on Nov 29 after the registration of vote by Mr Tarin.
He added that under Article 62 (1)(C) there was no mention of any duration for a voter to be registered in a particular province for contesting Senate polls from that province.
The counsel referred to several judgments of the superior courts in support of his contentions and insisted that there was no bar on a candidate to contest polls on the basis of the registration of vote in a particular area before the announcement of election schedule.
Polling for the vacant Senate seat is scheduled to be held on Dec 20 in the provincial assembly building.
The candidates can appeal against acceptance or rejection of papers by Dec 8, whereas the relevant appellate tribunal will decide appeals until Dec 10. The ECP will publish revised list of candidates on Dec 11. The candidates can withdraw papers by Dec 13.
The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has 96 members in the 145-strong provincial assembly and therefore, defeating Mr Tarin in the by-election is an uphill task for the opposition parties.
Mr Tarin was appointed the federal finance minister on Apr 16, 2021, and served against that post for six months. As he was not a parliamentarian, he couldn’t hold that office beyond six months.
He had to relinquish that post prompting the prime minister to appoint him his adviser on finance and revenue.
Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2021