Poll candidates' nominations challenged in Pak



Islamabad: The nomination papers of several high-profile candidates in the fray for Pakistan's general election, including Pervez Musharraf and Imran Khan, were on Saturday challenged by their opponents in different parts of the country.

Jamaat-e-Islami leader Niyamatullah Khan, who intends to contest Parliamentary polls in Karachi from the same constituency as Musharraf, objected to the former military ruler's candidature on the ground that he had twice violated and subverted the Constitution.

Khan filed an objection against Musharraf's nomination papers for Parliamentary constituency number 250 with election authorities in Karachi.

Another man has challenged Musharraf's nomination papers for a constituency in Islamabad on the ground that the former President does not meet the standards of Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution, which states that a candidate should have a "good character" and be "sagacious, righteous and non-profligate, honest and ameen (faithful)".

Imran Khan's nomination papers for a parliamentary seat in Rawalpindi were challenged yesterday by a local resident, Mohammad Hafeez Abbasi, who pointed out that the former cricketer had written in his memoir "Me And My Pakistan" about "consuming liquor".

Abbasi contended in a written objection submitted to election authorities that this was "a clear violation of Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution" and that Khan was ineligible to contest the polls.

The Returning Officer has asked Khan to clarify his position.

In Lahore, a Returning Officer rejected objections to Imran Khan's nomination papers for another parliamentary seat and accepted them this afternoon.

A local resident, Muhammad Aslam, had objected to Khan's candidature on the ground that the former cricketer had allegedly fathered a child out of wedlock with Sita White.

Aslam contended that this was a violation of Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution.

At Muzaffargarh in Punjab province, a Returning Officer directed former Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar to produce by tomorrow a "clearance certificate" stating that a textile mill owned by her family had repaid bank loans worth Rs 56 million.

Khar told the Returning Officer that the mill was owned by her husband and she only owned shares in the firm.

However, the poll official said her nomination papers would be rejected if she did not produce the certificate.

In a separate development, one of the persons who had opposed Musharraf's nomination papers for a constituency at Kasur in Punjab was Maulana Javid Kasuri, a deputy supreme commander of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, an anti-India terror group.

The Returning Officer in Kasur had yesterday rejected Musharraf's nomination papers on the ground that he did not satisfy the provisions of Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution.

Kasuri, also a leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami, had raised objections against Musharraf's candidature and accused him of suspending members of the judiciary, putting fake signatures on his nomination papers, committing treason, assassinating Baloch nationalist leader Akbar Bugti and killing "innocent people" in Islamabad's Lal Masjid.

As President, Musharraf had declared the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen a terrorist organisation.

Meanwhile, officials of the Election Commission said they had received 23,715 nomination papers for polls to the national and provincial assemblies and completed the scrutiny of 20,729 papers.

Appeals against the rejection of nomination papers will be accepted till April 10 and election tribunals will decide the appeals by April 17.

Pakistan will go to the polls on May 11, marking the first democratic transition in the country's 66-year history.

PTI