Islamabad: The main opposition Pakistan People`s Party on Friday decided to boycott next week`s presidential poll, paving the way for the smooth election of PML-N candidate Mamnoon Hussain.
The Election Commission rejected objections to Hussain`s candidature from a rival, who contended he was not eligible for the post as he does not sport a beard.
Announcing the PPP`s decision to boycott the poll, senior leader and presidential candidate Raza Rabbani said his party was left with no other option after the Supreme Court ordered the advancing of the election.
The rescheduling of the election from August 6 to July 30 had drastically curtailed time for campaigning, Rabbani said. "We have been left with no alternative but to boycott the election," he told reporters.
"The Supreme Court did not issue us any notice, nor did they hear us or provide us an opportunity to present our point of view...A unilateral decision was made."
The PPP`s boycott will not affect the outcome of the election as the ruling PML-N`s candidate is poised to easily win the contest. The PML-N has a clear majority in the electoral college comprising members of the four provincial assemblies and parliament.
The Election Commission had announced the poll would be held on August 6, which falls on the 27th day of the holy month of Ramzan that is considered sacred.
Acting on a petition from PML-N chairman Raja Zafrul Haq, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the election would be held on July 30.
The issue of PLM-N candidate Mamnoon Hussain not having a beard came up during the scrutiny of nominations by the Election Commission.
A rival candidate, Zahoor Hussain, argued that the PML-N
nominee was unfit to become the head of the Islamic republic as he does not have a beard. He contended this was a violation of the traditions of Prophet Mohammed.
However, the Election Commission rejected the objection and cleared Mamnoon Hussain`s candidature. The panel rejected the papers of 19 other candidates.
Former cricketer Imran Khan, whose Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf party nominated former judge Wajihuddin Ahmed, said his party will participate in the election despite reservations over the change of schedule.
"My party and I think the PPP is right that very little time has been given to candidates for campaigning. The Election Commission should have thought about this," he told reporters.
The new President will be sworn in on September 8 and will replace incumbent Asif Ali Zardari, who announced earlier that he would not seek a second term.