ISLAMABAD, Aug 26: Thirty-two candidates have entered the race for the country’s top constitutional office and submitted a total of 67 nomination papers. The presidential election is scheduled for Sept 6.

Chief Election Commissioner Qazi Mohammad Farooq received nomination papers in Islamabad and the chief justices of high courts in the provincial capitals on Tuesday.

Nomination papers of the main candidates — Asif Ali Zardari of the Pakistan People’s Party, Saeeduz Zaman Siddiqui of the Pakistan Muslim League-N and Mushahid Hussain Sayed of the PML-Q — were submitted in Islamabad.

In all, 35 nomination papers of 10 candidates were filed in the federal capital — 14 for Mr Zardari and two for his covering candidate Faryal Talpur.

The PML-N has fielded Roedad Khan as the covering candidate.

Fourteen nomination papers of 13 candidates were filed in Lahore, 17 of eight candidates in Karachi and one in Peshawar. No papers were submitted in Quetta.

Election Commission’s secretary Kanwar Mohammad Dilshad told Dawn that nomination papers of nuclear scientist Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan had not been submitted.

He rejected a perception that the election schedule had been announced under pressure because PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif had set a deadline for reinstatement of the deposed judges.

Sources in the commission said a number of nomination papers did not bear the names of ‘proposers’ and ‘seconders’ and they would be rejected during scrutiny on Thursday.

Parliamentarians belonging to the PPP, Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Awami National Party, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl) and other coalition partners proposed and seconded the name of Mr Zardari. Ministers and leaders of the PPP and its allies who were present at the time of the filing of the papers included Asfandyar Wali Khan, Raza Rabbani, Sherry Rehman, Raja Pervez Ashraf, Qamaruzzaman Kaira, Najamuddin, Rehmatullah Kakar, Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, Farooq H. Naek, Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah, Aftab Shabaan Mirani, Mufti Ajmal Khan, Shagufta Jamani, Naseem Chaudhry, Rukhsana Bangash, Dr Farooq Sattar and Haider Abbas Rizvi.

The PML-N leaders who filed nomination papers of Justice Saeeduz Zaman Siddiqui included Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Makhdoom Javed Hashmi.

The PML-Q leaders who accompanied Mr Mushahid Hussain included Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi.

Talking to journalists, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Sherry Rehman expressed the confidence that the PPP would safely sail through the election. “We enjoy the support of the required number of voters. We will steer the country out of all crises and the PPP will follow the Charter of Democracy in its true spirit,” she said.

Law Minister Farooq Naek said the PPP would fulfil its commitment of reinstating the judges. However, the matter had to be discussed in parliament so no timeframe could be given.

He claimed that the PPP had never reneged on any agreement with coalition partners.

He rejected reports about a ‘minus-one formula’ as baseless and said that the government would not make any discrimination among the deposed judges.

Habib Khan Ghori adds from Karachi: Of the 17 papers filed in Karachi, nine were of the PPP co-chairman submitted by members of the Sindh assembly belonging to the PPP, MQM and ANP.

Of the remaining eight aspirants, only two had been proposed and seconded by common citizens, who are not part of the electoral college.

The MPAs who proposed and seconded Mr Zardari’s name are: Mir Nadir Ali Magsi and Saleem Khurshid Khokhar, Syed Qaim Ali Shah and Manzoor Hussain Wasan, Sirajuddin Khan Durrani and Mohammad Ayaz Soomro, Murad Ali Shah and Dr Sageer Ahmad, Shazia Maree and Nargis N. D. Khan, Shoaib Ahmad Bokhari and Syed Faisal Ali Sabzwari, Amir Nawab and Munawwar Ali Abbasi, Makhdoom Jamiluz Zaman and Dr Zulfiqar Ali Mirza, and Pir Mazharul Haq and Syed Ali Nawaz Shah.

The other candidates who filed the papers are: Ameer Ali Pattiwala, Faquir Hussain Ansari, Dr Mian Ihsan Bari, Mirza Asif Baig, Shakil Ahmad Khan, Mohammad Ejaz Alam, Syed Sakhawat Ali and Shamim Ahmad.

Our Reporter in Lahore adds: The 13 aspirants who filed their nomination papers with the registrar of the Lahore High Court are: Mirza Tahir Baig, M.P. Khan, Mian Arif Iqbal, Prof Latif, Mouazzam Iqbal Gill, Chaudhry Gulzar, Mohammad Shahbaz Khan, Amin Hafeez, Abdur Rahman Chisti, Dr Amber Shahzada, Mohammad Iqbal, Mohammad Hanif and Rana Mohammad Aleem Khan.

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