LAHORE: As the scrutiny process continues across the country, the returning officer of NA-89 (Mianwali) reserved verdict on objections raised against the candidature of PTI chairman Imran Khan.

Objections against Imran Khan’s nomination were raised by Khurram Rokhri and Khalilur Rehman who contended that the PTI founding chairman had already been convicted and disqualified, and thus legally ineligible to contest elections. After hearing the arguments, the RO reserved the decision.

In NA-127, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s lawyer submitted reply to objections raised against the nomination papers of his client. He said the objector is a resident of Narowal and not the voter of NA-127. He said Mr Bhutto-Zardari’s papers have already been cleared in Sindh, but the issue has been raised over his papers in Punjab intentionally.

After hearing the arguments from both the parties, the RO reserved the decision.

“Though my papers have been accepted from NA-127, our leader Bilawal Bhutto will surely contest elections from this constituency,” said Aslam Gill, the PPP leader’s covering candidate from NA-127, while talking to media on the occasion.

Bilawal’s lawyer submits reply in NA-127; Ijaz Chaudhry’s papers accepted

He said those criticising judiciary were causing damage to democracy.

The objections were also raised on the papers of the PTI leader and former federal minister Hammad Azhar for PP-171- one of the 30 provincial constituencies in Lahore. Azhar’s papers have already been cleared for a NA constituency of Lahore. For PP-171, Rana Irfan advocate challenged his nomination papers.

Mr Irfan stated that Hammad Azhar was involved in various cases registered under the terrorism laws.

He said since he (Azhar) is also a proclaimed offender in various cases, his signature on the papers were also not of him.

The petitioner prayed for rejecting Mr Hammad Azhar ‘s papers for PP-171. On this, the RO sought reply from the candidate’s lawyer.

In NA-120 (Lahore), the nomination papers of PML-N leader and former National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq were initially cleared by the returning officer. The nomination papers of Chaudhry Ashfaq, former senior leader of the PTI who has recently joined the Istehkam-i-Pakistan Party (IPP), were cleared by the RO for NA-106.

The papers of Haji Sheikh Muhammad Akram and his son Sheikh Waqas Akram were also cleared by the respective RO for NA-109 (Jhang).

In Sargodha division, the nomination papers of majority of political stalwarts, including Dr. Mukhtar Bharath of PML-N, Nadeem Afzal Chan (PPP) for NA-82, Mohsin Shahnawaz (PML-N) from NA-83, former minister of state Tasneem Ahmad Qureshi (PPP), Ch Hamid Hameed (PML-N) for NA-84, Dr Zulfikar Ali Bhatti (PML-N) and Ch Amer Sultan Cheema (independent) for NA-85 were found in order.

The decision over objections over nomination papers of several national and provincial assembly constituencies, including objections raised against Maryam Nawaz Sharif’s papers for PP-80, will be decided today (December 30), the last date of the scrutiny process.

Scrutiny

Incarcerated PTI senator Ijaz Chaudhry’s nomination papers to contest election from NA-127 (Lahore), were accepted only after the Lahore High Court direction.

Earlier, a PTI spokesman said Mr Chaudhry’s candidature proposer and seconder were harassed and every effort was made at submission and scrutiny stages to block nomination. “Mr Chaudhry’s legal team contested against all odds and got the nomination papers scrutinised and approved,” the spokesman added.

In Gujrat, PTI leader Moonis Elahi stated that his attorneys were forced to stay out of the RO office to deprive them of the process of scrutiny of nomination papers. “When our attorneys reached inside the RO office, the RO himself ran away,” he tweeted.

In Gujrat, the proposer and seconder for nomination papers of the wife of PTI former MPA from PP-33 Liaqat Bhaddar were “kidnapped” from inside the RO office, a PTI spokesman claimed.

Protective bail

The Lahore High Court on Friday granted protective bail to Abdul Sattar, a PTI ticket aspirant from Okara, and restrained the police from arresting him till Jan 8.

Justice Ali Baqar Najafi heard the bail petition filed through Advocate Rabbiya Bajwa.

The counsel stated that the petitioner was contesting election from PP-181 of Okara, but he was being targeted on political grounds.

She expressed concern that there was an attempt to arrest the petitioner in years old cases only to obstruct his way to the election.

She requested the court to grant protective bail to the petitioner so he can approach the court of relevant jurisdiction.

Justice Najafi allowed the protective bail to Abdul Sattar with a direction to approach the relevant court till Jan 8.

Mansoor Malik and Wajih Ahmad Sheikh also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, December 30th, 2023

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