ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: With elections approaching, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has alleged that an alarming upsurge has been witnessed in the “detentions and abductions” of party candidates’ seconders and proposers across the country.

The party claims that the scrutiny of PTI candidates’ nomination papers is being refused, while candidates from other political parties navigate the intricate scrutiny process effortlessly.

“The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has completely failed in providing a conducive environment and a level playing field for conducting free, fair and transparent general elections,” a party spokesperson said.

“The gravity of the situation could be judged from the fact that the women seconder and proposer for PTI district Attock president and candidate for PP-01 Hazro Attock, Qazi Ahmad Akbar, were kidnap­ped, besides election staff continu­ed to harass PTI candidates illegally during the process of scrutiny of their nomination papers,” he added.

PTI ticket aspirant from Wazirabad granted protective bail; another leader alleges police harassment; LHC issues notices

Muhammad Basharat Raja and Muhammad Nasir Raja, lawyers for PTI candidates in constituency NA-55, stated that the harassment of PTI candidates persisted as the Rawalpindi Cantt returning officer (RO) “refused to allow scrutiny of the nomination papers for PTI candidates in NA-55”.

They said that the son of Isteh­kam-i-Pakistan Party (IPP) leader Aamir Kayani had his father’s nomination papers approved from the same constituency just moments ago, clearly reflecting the electoral watchdog’s failure in creating a con­ducive environment for elections.

Jurist Abuzar Salman Niazi said, “[I] went to RO office on Thursday. Despite having court orders and fulfillment of codal formalities, the police didn’t allow scrutiny of nomination papers of Sheikh Imtiaz Ahmed.”

Meanwhile, the PTI spokesperson lashed out at the ECP for its statement in which it declared the Pesha­war High Court’s (PHC) order as ju­­d­­icial interference in the election process, saying that the ECP was now resorting to fire salvos at the judiciary to hide its failure to conduct elections within the constitutionally mandated timeframe of 90 days.

LHC grants protective bail

Separately, in a relevant development, the Lahore High Court (LHC) granted protective bail to a local PTI leader from PP-35, Wazirabad, in a case of May 9 riots, and also issued notices on a petition by a ticket aspirant from PP-160, Lahore, alleging harassment by the police.

Petitioner Ahmad Ali, through his counsel, contended that he had been implicated in a case for allegedly facilitating the suspects of the May 9 events.

The lawyer stated that the petitioner filed his nomination papers for PP-35, Wazirabad, and was required to appear before the RO for the scrutiny process.

However, he said there were ap­­p­rehensions that the police would arrest the petitioner, obstructing his fundamental right to contest the election.

The counsel asked the court to grant protective bail for the petitioner to appear before the RO for scrutiny of his nomination papers.

Justice Ali Baqar Najafi granted protective bail to Mr Ali till Jan 8, allowing the petition.

Notices issued to Punjab govt, police

Separately, Justice Shehram Sarwar Chaudhry issued notices to Punjab caretaker government and police on a petition of Advocate Mian Ehsanullah Sajid, a PTI ticket aspirant from PP-160 of Lahore.

Advocate Rabbiya Bajwa, representing the petitioner, argued that her client was facing harassment by the police. She mentioned that previously, police personnel in plain clothes snatched the petitioner’s nomination papers, and now he was personally being harassed.

The lawyer asserted that a level playing field was not provided to the petitioner, expressing concerns that hurdles might be created during the election campaign. She asked the court to restrain the police from causing harassment to the petitioner.

The judge adjourned the hearing till Friday (today) and directed a law officer to submit replies on behalf of the respondents.

Senator Ijaz Chaudhry, jailed for alleged involvement in multiple May 9 riot cases, also filed a petition to the LHC against alleged harassment to his proposer and seconder.

The senator’s lawyer contended that the petitioner filed nomination papers for NA-127, Lahore. The scrutiny was set for Dec 28, but police obstructed his proposer and seconder. He asked the court to restrain the police from hindering the appearance of the petitioner’s proposer/seconder.

Published in Dawn, December 29th, 2023

Opinion

Editorial

IMF’s unease
24 May, 2024

IMF’s unease

THE first round of ‘engagement’ between Pakistan and the IMF over the former’s request for a larger and longer...
Belated recognition
24 May, 2024

Belated recognition

WITH Wednesday’s announcement by three European states that they intend to recognise Palestine as a state later...
App for GBV survivors
24 May, 2024

App for GBV survivors

GENDER-based violence is caught between two worlds: one sees it as a crime, the other as ‘convention’. The ...
Energy inflation
Updated 23 May, 2024

Energy inflation

The widening gap between the haves and have-nots is already tearing apart Pakistan’s social fabric.
Culture of violence
23 May, 2024

Culture of violence

WHILE political differences are part of the democratic process, there can be no justification for such disagreements...
Flooding threats
23 May, 2024

Flooding threats

WITH temperatures in GB and KP forecasted to be four to six degrees higher than normal this week, the threat of...