Former president Pervez Musharraf may never get the chance to find out if his Facebook friends would actually have voted for him.
The All Pakistan Muslim League chief on Tuesday saw an appellate election tribunal put paid to his bid to stand for elections from NA 32 Chitral, the only constituency from which his nomination papers had been accepted. On the same day, an election tribunal of the Lahore High Court (LHC) and another tribunal of the Rawalpindi Division dismissed his appeals against the rejection of his nomination papers from NA-139 Kasur and NA-48 Islamabad respectively. This means that Musharraf will no longer be able to contest elections.
While hearing four identical appeals from different residents of Chitral, the Peshawar High Court tribunal, comprising of Justice Mian Fasih Ul Mulk, Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel and Justice Irshad Qaisar declared Musharraf disqualified on the grounds of using inappropriate methods of submitting nomination papers.
The appellants argued that the nomination papers submitted by Musharraf did not bear his signature, and that he did not give the written authority letter that is required in case someone else was submitting papers on his behalf. They also pointed to his having twice abrogated the constitution and having declared Emergency in Pakistan. In addition to this, they argued that he was involved in the killing of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, Nawab Akbar Bugti and was also responsible for the carnage in Karachi on 12 May 2010.
“It is not necessary to give a written authority when submitting nomination papers,” argued Musharraf’s counsel Muhammad Saad Shibli, adding that Musharraf had verbally given the authority.
The tribunal, while rejecting this argument, ruled against Musharraf, disallowing him from contesting the elections.
But there was more bad news for the former army chief, as an election tribunal of the LHC also dismissed his appeal against the rejection of his papers for NA-139, Kasur.
Musharraf’s counsel, Barrister Salman Safdar argued that the former president had not been convicted by any court, nor had the allegations against him been proven true.
Barrister Safdar however failed to come up with a satisfactory answer when asked by the tribunal to justify the acts taken by the former president on Nov 3, 2007.
The tribunal comprising Justice Khwaja Imtiaz Ahmad and Justice Khalid Mahmood Khan then dismissed the appeal.
This was also the fate of Musharraf’s appeal before the Rawalpindi Division tribunal. His papers for the NA-48 Islamabad constituency had been rejected by the RO on the grounds that he did not meet the criterion under Article 62 and 63 of the constitution.
The tribunal, comprising Justice Asad Rauf Sheikh and Justice Mamoon Rashid Sheikh, upheld the returning officer’s decision, disallowing Musharraf from contesting elections.
Musharraf’s counsel Malik Qamar Afzal argued that he had taken the decision to impose emergency on the advice of the prime minister. “People throughout the country distributed sweets when he imposed martial law. The judiciary also endorsed his action,” he said.
However, the tribunal rejected the appeal saying that Musharraf was the president at the time and was responsible for the steps taken in his tenure.
Among the other high-profile persons whose appeals were rejected on Tuesday was former Sindh food minister Nadir Magsi, who had filed an appeal against the rejection of his papers for PS-40 Shahdadkot.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th, 2013.