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ISLAMABAD:Official data reveals that 3,240 candidates aspiring to contest elections at national and provincial levels had their nomination papers rejected by returning officers (ROs) in the recently concluded scrutiny process.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) sources confirmed that 1,024 candidates, 934 male and 90 female, were denied eligibility to contest National Assembly elections.

Additionally, 2,216 individuals, 2,081 men and 135 women, failed to secure approval for the provincial assembly race. In total, 3,015 men and 225 women couldn’t obtain ROs’ approval.

Out of 25,951 submissions (24,698 men and 1,253 women), the ROs green-lighted 22,711 candidates, including 21,684 men and 1,027 women. For the National Assembly, 6,449 candidates, comprising 6,094 men and 355 women, received approval.

The ROs accepted 16,262 nominations for various provincial assembly seats, including 15,590 men and 672 women. Punjab witnessed the highest number of rejections (521) for National Assembly nominations, followed by Sindh (166), Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (152), Balochistan (92), and Islamabad Capital Territory (93).

For provincial assembly seats, the ROs rejected nomination papers of 943 candidates in Punjab; 520 in Sindh; 386 in Balochistan and 367 in the K-P, making a total of 2,216. The total number of people who filed nomination papers to contest provincial assembly elections was 18,478

The post-scrutiny phase allows candidates to appeal the ROs’ decisions before appellate tribunals until January 3, 2024. These appeals will be decided by January 10, 2024, following which a revised list of candidates will be published on January 11, 2024.

With a significant number of rejections, the timeframe for tribunals and legal forums to address matters and maintain electoral proceedings appears tight.

Notably, a substantial portion of PTI candidates faced rejections by the scrutiny deadline, contrasting with smoother approvals for other parties. The acceptance or rejection of nomination papers is a defining stage for contesting elections.

The recent decisions, albeit subject to challenge, strongly shape the upcoming electoral landscape. As the electoral process unfolds, only those approved by the ROs can proceed to contest, setting the stage for a potentially eventful election on February 8, 2024.

Following the announcement of the election schedule, the ECP had received nomination papers from a total of 28,626 candidates. According to PTI officials, roughly 2,400 PTI candidates had submitted nomination papers from different constituencies.

PTI leaders said on Saturday that an “overwhelming majority” of the party candidates faced rejection by December 30, the last date for scrutiny of nomination papers by ROs.

On Saturday, as the ROs accepted nomination papers of the PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif, Istehkam-e-Pakistan Party (IPP) chief Jahangir Khan Tareen – both disqualified five years ago – they rejected the papers of PTI founder Imran Khan on grounds of his disqualification.

The bigwigs whose nomination papers were accepted included Nawaz, Tareen, former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and PPP-Parliamentarians President Asif Ali Zardari.

Similarly, papers of PPP leaders Yousaf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, PML-N Senior Vice President Maryam Nawaz, IPP’s President Aleem Khan, PTI’s Sardar Latif Khosa, former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, senior politician Makhdom Javed Hashmi, MQM-P’s Farooq Sattar, former Punjab chief minister Usman Buzdar and others were also approved.

The PTI leaders who faced rejection of nomination papers included Shah Mahmood Qureshi, his children Zain and Meherbano Qureshi, Chaudhry Parvez Elahi and his son Moonis Elahi, Dr Yasmin Rashid, Ali Amin Gandapur, Hammad Azhar, Murad Saeed, Ejaz Chaudhry and Atif Khan among others.

Appellate stage

The appellate tribunals would start receiving appeals from Monday against the decisions of the returning officers across the country regarding rejection or acceptance of the nomination papers during the scrutiny process that completed on Saturday.

The process of the filing the appeals would continue until Wednesday, while the tribunals would decide the appeals by January 10. January 12 would be the last date of withdraw of nominations. After that the ECP would issue the final list of candidates on January 13 by allotting them the electoral symbols.

Last week, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) notified the appointment of 24 judges as appellate tribunals, who would dispose of the appeals. Accordingly, nine judges would act as tribunals in Punjab, followed by six in Sindh, five in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and two each in Balochistan and Islamabad.

 

With Thanks: Tribune