LAHORE / TOBA TEK SINGH: The nomination papers of PTI chairman Imran Khan for the NA-108 (Faisalabad) seat have been rejected by the returning officer for “unsatisfactory declaration of statement of assets and liabilities”.

District Election Moni­toring Officer Zaroya Amjad and Election Commission’s Punjab spokesperson Huda Gohar told Dawn the PTI chairman’s papers have been rejected because of unsatisfactory declaration of statement of assets and liabilities and not because of a signature issue, as claimed by the PTI.

Ms Amjad said the Form-B filed along with the nomination papers of Mr Khan was not satisfactory.

The order of the returning officer said: “There is difference of cost in the assets of the candidate [Imran Khan] annexed with nomination papers and the statements of assets & liabilities submitted before the Election Commission of Pakistan during the years published in the Gazette of Pakistan on March 12, 2019, March 26, 2020 & May 24, 2021. Form-B annexed with nomination papers does not provide accurate picture of his assets & liabilities. The candidate has concealed the items received by him from Toshakhana.”

The PTI smelled a rat in the rejection of Mr Khan’s papers, alleging the returning officer was under pressure to do so. The PTI said it would challenge the decision in the high court.

“District Election Commissioner (returning officer for NA-108) Irfan Kausar had already made up his mind to reject the nomination papers of Imran Khan as he was under pressure. He had told us ahead of his decision that we should go to the high court (against his verdict),” PTI’s central information secretary Farrukh Habib said in a series of tweets and in his press conference in Faisalabad in response to the party’s reaction to the returning officer’s decision.

Expressing wonder over the decision, Mr Habib said: “How come the returning officer can reject the nomination papers on a flimsy ground while in other eight NA constituencies where the by-poll is taking place and no such objection is made. We will challenge this decision in the court and we are hopeful that Imran would be allowed to contest for NA-108.”

In case the returning officer’s decision is upheld, Farrukh Habib will be the PTI’s candidate on this seat. This seat was held by Mr Habib in 2018 polls and fell vacant when National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf accepted his resignation along with 10 others. The by-poll will be held here on September 25.

The returning officer accepted the nomination papers of PML-N candidate Abid Sher Ali. The same day, the returning officer of NA-118 Nankana Sahib did not raise any such objection to Imran Khan’s nomination papers and accepted them.

In NA-118, PML-N’s Shezra Mansab’s nomination papers have also been accepted. Shezra is the joint candidate of the PML-N and its 12 allied parties.

Meanwhile, the ECP has constituted teams to monitor by polls in Punjab. “The teams will monitor the campaign of the candidates and make sure that they follow election code of conduct,” it said.

According to the ECP, the by-elections for the constituencies of NA-22 Mardan, NA-24 Charsadda, NA-31 Peshawar, NA-45 Kurram, NA-108 Faisalabad, NA-118 Nankana Sahib and Karachi’s NA-237, NA-239 and NA-246 will be held on Sept 25.

Imran Khan had announced contesting on all nine seats. The returning officers have accepted his nomination papers on eight seats.

Published in Dawn, August 18th, 2022

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