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Aitzaz to withdraw poll papers

December 13, 2007

LAHORE, Dec 12: Pakistan People’s Party leader and Supreme Court Bar Association president Aitzaz Ahsan has decided to withdraw his nomination papers for the NA-124 Lahore seat.

“Although I believe that victory is quite certain I choose to stand with the lawyers’ community which has been continuing a heroic struggle for restoration of the judiciary and supremacy of the Constitution,” Mr Ahsan said in a statement issued here on Wednesday.

It may be mentioned that some elements were criticising Mr Ahsan that despite being the SCBA president, he was keeping his options open to contest the election from the PPP platform. The lawyers’ stand has been that the Jan 8 election is a process of selection under the Musharraf regime.

Since Mr Ahsan is under detention, he has authorised in writing advocates Shaukat Ali Javed and Mian Tariq Hassan to withdraw his nomination papers.

Mohammad Azhar, another lawyer who had submitted papers for NA-124, said the papers would be withdrawn on Dec 15.

Mr Ahsan’s wife Bushra Aitzaz told Dawn that lawyers, students and civil society activists would participate in the process of withdrawal of his nomination papers.

Mr Ahsan said in his statement that he had informed the PPP leadership about his decision.

He said the lawyers’ struggle was for a tolerant, liberal, democratic and pluralistic Pakistan in which laws, and not men, were supreme. “They want a vibrant and progressive modern Pakistan in which a citizen has rights and can enjoy the due process of law under an independent judiciary and a truly sovereign parliament,” he said.

He said even the parties which had decided to contest the elections were already calling them sham and rigged.

“Even the patrons of the regime had pronounced that these were not going to be perfect, which means that it is recognised, in advance, that these will be rigged. What can thus be achieved from such elections?” he asked.

Mr Ahsan’s papers would be withdrawn after verification of his signature by the superintendent of Camp Jail, Lahore. That was a necessary formality because Mr Ahsan was in a sub-jail, the statement said.