PML-N candidate wins appeal against rejection of nomination
Islamabad: Senior PML-N leader Ayaz Amir, one of Pakistan's most outspoken and well-known columnists, on Wednesday won an appeal against the rejection of his nomination papers for the upcoming general election over two of his newspaper articles.
Amir is seeking re-election from the Parliamentary constituency of Chakwal in Punjab province.
A Returning Officer had cited two articles written by Amir while rejecting his nomination papers last week, saying they went against the "ideology of Pakistan".
An election tribunal comprising judges of the high court overturned the Returning Officer's decision and cleared Amir's candidature for the May 11 general election.
The Returning Officer had objected to references in Amir's articles to alcohol, which is banned in Pakistan, and a constitutional amendment classifying the country as an Islamic state.
He contended that these references went against Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution, which state that candidates should have a "good character", not violate "Islamic injunctions" and not act "in any manner prejudicial to the ideology of Pakistan".
Speaking to reporters after the tribunal gave its decision, Amir said it was the first time in Pakistan's history that nomination papers were rejected on the basis of columns written by a candidate.
He described the tribunal's judgement as a victory for the freedom of expression.
If the Returning Officer's order had been upheld, it would have created a "strange" impression of Pakistan in the outside world, he said.
The last National Assembly had lost an opportunity to remove constitutional articles that were being used arbitrarily to reject nomination papers and the new Parliament should address this issue, he said.
Amir said Articles 62 and 63 were open to misinterpretation while his lawyer Salman Akram Raja said it was difficult to define a "good Muslim" according to these articles.
"The law needs to be clearly explained. It should not be left to the people to determine the criteria of a Muslim," Amir said.
Civil society groups and political parties have criticised the enforcement of Articles 62 and 63 during the scrutiny process, especially after Returning Officers were shown on television quizzing candidates about their knowledge of Quranic verses and Islamic law.