Islamabad: Pakistan's former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was barred by an election tribunal from contesting the July 25 general election from Rawalpindi, a day after he was allowed to run for a seat from capital Islamabad.
Abbasi had filed nominations for NA-53 Islamabad and NA-57 Rawalpindi seats. Initially, election officials had rejected his nomination from Islamabad but accepted his bid from Rawalpindi.
He had challenged his rejection from the capital in a special election tribunal of the Islamabad High Court, where his plea was accepted by judge Mohsin Akhtar Kayani on Tuesday.
Abbasi's rival candidate from NA-57 (Murree in Rawalpindi), Masood Abbasi had challenged his candidature in another tribunal led by judge Ibadur Rehman Lodhi.
Masood had accused the former premier of tampering with the nomination papers and illegally occupying forest land in his native Murree city near Islamabad, and certain other objections including not declaring the exact worth of a house in Islamabad.
Court officials said that the judge barred Abbasi from contesting elections from Rawalpindi but in the detailed judgment he disqualified him under Article 62 of the Constitution for hiding assets in his nomination papers.
It is the same article under which former premier Nawaz Sharif was disqualified for life by the Supreme Court last year.
Justice Lodhi upheld some of the objections against the former prime minister while his lawyer argued that Abbasi's nomination papers were same as the one filed for the NA-53 constituency in Islamabad, which had been already accepted, according to court officials.
The judge in the written orders ruled that Abbasi was “guilty of concealment of facts and withholding of complete information from his voters” and declared that he was not “Sadiq' (truthful) and Ameen (righteous)” and hence not a “qualified person to be elected or chosen as a member of Majlis-e-Shoora (parliament) within the meaning of Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution of Pakistan”.
He rejected the objections by Abbasi's counsel that the tribunal can only accept or reject nomination and was not legally empowered to disqualify a candidate.
Abbasi in his reaction accused the judge of being hostile and said he would challenge the decision in the Lahore High Court.
“The tribunal has exceeded its powers and I will challenge the verdict and contest elections from the same constituency,” he said.
The judgment left experts and local media wondering as to how a candidate could be declared as qualified by one judge while being disqualified by another.
Abbasi, who was appointed as premier after Sharif was disqualified by the Supreme Court last year in the Panama Papers case, can now appeal in a three-member bench of the Lahore High Court against the tribunal's decision.
Meanwhile, Justice Kayani today accepted the nomination papers of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf chief Imran Khan from NA-53 (Islamabad) constituency, from where he is contesting against Abbasi.
Khan's nomination papers were rejected by the Returning Officer, following which he had filed an appeal in the election tribunal.
Also, Khan's candidacy from NA-35 (Bannu) was also approved after his nomination papers were challenged in the Peshawar appellate tribunal.
Khan has filed five nominations -- from NA-53 (Islamabad), NA-35 (Bannu), NA-95 (Mianwali), NA-131 (Lahore) and NA-243 (Karachi) constituencies.