PTI fields Mahmood Khan Achakzai to face Zardari in presidential election

Published March 3, 2024
The combo photo shows presidential candidates Mahmood Khan Achakzai and Asif Ali Zardari. — File
The combo photo shows presidential candidates Mahmood Khan Achakzai and Asif Ali Zardari. — File

ISLAMABAD: Backed by PTI, firebrand Pashtun nationalist leader from Bal­o­chistan Mehmood Khan Achakzai on Satur­day submitted nomination papers to contest the upco­ming presidential election on March 9 against PPP’s Asif Ali Zardari.

Three other citizens have also filed nomination papers with the presiding officer, Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Aamer Farooq, through their respective representatives.

Advocate Farooq H. Naek filed the nomination papers for Mr Zardari, while PTI’s Sardar Latif Khosa submitted the papers for Mr Achakzai, who is the president of the Pakhtoonkhwa Mili Awami Party (PkMAP).

Former president Zardari is being backed by the PML-N-led eight-party coalition as per an understanding reached after the February 8 elections, while Mr Achakzai is the candidate of the PTI-Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) alliance.

Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Mr Naek are the former president’s proposer and seconder, respectively. PPP’s Senator Saleem Mandviwalla was also present in the IHC during the submission of the papers. PTI’s Asad Qaiser and Ali Mohammad Khan are the proposer and seconder of Mr Achakzai, respectively.

Three other candidates, Asghar Ali Mubarak, Abdul Qadoos and Waheed Ahmed Kamal, also submitted their nomination papers as under the Constitution, any Muslim citizen of Pakistan having attained the age of 45 and eligible to become a member of the National Assembly can contest the election for the office of the president.

However, it is expected that their papers will be rejected on technical grounds as nomination requires proposers and seconders who should be the voters, which means that they should have been nominated by members of any of the country’s six legislatures.

Secretary to the IHC chief justice, Noor Muhammad Mirza, has submitted the nomination papers to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

As per the election schedule issued by the ECP, the commission will scrutinise the forms on March 4 (tomorrow). The final list of candidates will be issued the next day, while polling will take place on March 9.

IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq will preside over the election proceedings in the National Assembly where MNAs and senators will poll their votes.

Polling for the president’s election will also be held in all the four provincial assemblies.

The presidential election is taking place on March 9, in line with Article 41(4) of the Constitution, which states that the election for the president must take place within 30 days after the general elections.

Since the general elections were held on Feb 8, the presidential election is required to be conducted by March 9, two days before the retirement of half of the senators after completing their six-year term.

Mr Zardari previously served as the president from September 2008 to 2013 after the resignation of the military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

But Mr Achakzai’s nomination for the president’s office was a surprise, coming only a day after the Baloch nationalist leader delivered a forceful speech in the National Assembly against the alleged role of the military establishment in politics and in support of the jailed PTI founder Imran Khan.

Commenting on the development, PML-N’s Khawaja Asif, during an informal chat with some reporters at the Parliament House, taunted the PTI by saying it seemed that “the party has changed its brand.”

PPP’s Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari also said while he has great respect for Mr Achakzai, if he becomes PTI’s candidate for the post of president, he cannot refer to himself as a nationalist.

Meanwhile, after his nomination for the office of the president by the PTI, Mr Achakzai called on JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman to seek his support.

Published in Dawn, March 3rd, 2024

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