RAWALPINDI: An election tribunal on Monday reserved its verdict on an appeal against former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s nomination papers submitted for NA-57 Murree constituency.
Abbasi is contesting on the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s ticket from NA-53, as well as his home constituency of NA-57 Murree. His nomination from Murree has also been challenged in the Rawalpindi appellate tribunal.
Lahore High Court Justice Abdul Rehman Lodhi was conducting the proceedings.
As the hearing went under way, Justice Rehman asked the appellant for evidence that could prove Abbasi should be disqualified.
“The premise that his [Abbasi’s] thumb impression is above or below the identity card is not a valid argument,” the justice noted. “How were the nomination papers tampered?”
Abbasi’s lawyer informed the tribunal that his client had declared all of his assets in the documents submitted to the Election Commission of Pakistan. “Declared assets in both of my client’s nomination papers are the same,” he said, adding that Abbasi had listed his shares in an airline in both documents.
The tribunal later reserved its verdict.
‘Nation, not courts decide fate of election’
Speaking to the media outside after the hearing, Abbasi said that a returning officer could not challenge a candidate’s affidavit.
“The returning officer has to take the affidavit on face value,” the former prime minister said, adding that the nation, not courts, decide the fate of elections.
Responding to a question about fielding candidates against former PML-N member Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Abbasi commented that the party had made the decision. “The party’s decision is our decision,” he said.
Petitioner Masood Ahmed Abbas had challenged Abbasi’s candidature, accusing him of extorting money from the national exchequer. The petitioner had alleged that the candidate, during his tenure as the prime minister, had obtained Rs1 billion from the national kitty and given the amount to his son to perform Umrah.
Moreover, Abbas had stated that the former premier had supported a controversial interview that Nawaz Sharif had given, accusing him of purposefully damaging national security.
Among other accusations, the petitioner had alleged that Abbasi did not provide correct details of his assets. He further said that the former prime minister had not given any statement in support of Afia Siddiqui — a Pakistani scientist imprisoned in the US on terrorism charges.
The appellate tribunal had earlier suspended the returning officer for not correctly vetting Abbasi’s nomination papers.
The election tribunals have until June 27 to decide on the appeals after which the revised list of the candidates will be shared on June 28.
The last date for withdrawal of candidature will be June 29 whereas the date for allocation of electoral symbols and publication of the final list of contesting candidates will be June 30.
Polling for general election 2018 will be held on July 25.
Gulalai’s appeal adjourned until tomorrow
During hearing of appeals at the Islamabad tribunal today, Islamabad High Court Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani heard the appeal of estranged Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Ayesha Gulalai against the rejection of her nomination papers from NA-53, Islamabad.
After initial arguments, the judge adjourned the proceedings until tomorrow after issuing a notice to the Election Commission of Pakistan and the returning officer.