An election tribunal in Sindh has set aside objections raised to a returning officer’s (RO) decision to accept the nomination papers of PTI leader Faisal Vawda for the upcoming Senate polls, scheduled for March 3.
A similar tribunal in Punjab has, however, upheld an RO’s decision to reject PML-N leader Pervaiz Rashid’s nomination papers because of non-payment of outstanding dues of the Punjab House in Islamabad.
PPP candidate Qadir Khan Mandokhail had filed an appeal against the RO’s February 18 order, arguing that Vawda, also the federal minister for water resources, had hidden his dual nationality ahead of the July 2018 general election and therefore he was not truthful and trustworthy in view of Article 63.
Appearing before the bench, Vawda’s counsel said his client had not hidden anything from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) when he submitted his nomination papers for the 2018 polls. “My client had renounced his US citizenship ahead of contesting the polls,” he said.
Rasheed A Rizvi, the counsel for Mandokhail, said it was untrue that Faisal Vawda did not hide anything from the ECP. The PTI leader had not made any mention of his US citizenship in his 2018 nomination papers, he said.
A Sindh High Court (SHC) election tribunal led by Justice Agha Faisal, however, rejected the objections and upheld the RO’s decision. Talking to the media later, the PPP candidate said he would challenge the tribunal’s order in the SHC after approval of the party.
Separately, an appellate election tribunal of the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday dismissed an appeal filed by PML-N leader Pervaiz Rashid against rejection of his nomination papers by the RO.
When the tribunal comprising Justice Shahid Waheed started hearing the appeal, a law officer said the Punjab House controller had submitted the record about stay of Rashid in the facility and an audit report.
He said a notice had been sent to Pervaiz Rashid for payment of Rs9.5 million dues at his DHA residence. However, Rashid 's counsel denied that his client received any notice for payment of dues.
He said a notice had been given to his client during the scrutiny of the nomination papers and he had tried to deposit the amount but no one received the amount. He said even now Rashid was ready to pay the dues. “He has given application twice to the RO for payment of dues but to no avail.”
Justice Waheed observed that Rashid had not claimed in his appeal that he did not stay at the Punjab House. The counsel submitted that Rashid had contested the Senate election earlier but an objection to non-payment of dues was not raised at that time.
He requested the court to allow his client to contest the elections.
A counsel for the respondent claimed that Pervaiz Rashid was aware of the government dues but he did nothing for the purpose. “If Pervaiz Rashid never stayed at the Punjab House then why was he ready to pay the dues?” he questioned.
He submitted that the returning officer gave Pervaiz Rashid 48 hours for payment of the dues but the amount was not deposited.
Justice Waheed questioned the counsel where Perviaz Rashid was supposed to deposit the dues. The counsel stated that the PML-N leader should have deposited the dues to the controller.
The Punjab House controller clarified that the PML-N leader did not approach him or any other staff member for the purpose. The respondent counsel further submitted that the Supreme Court had already observed that Pervaiz Rashid unlawfully appointed Ataul Haq Qasmi as PTV chairman.
Justice Waheed questioned whether he wanted to raise a new objection. The counsel replied that it was an important issue
The Punjab advocate general submitted that Rashid had not claimed in his appeal that he never took a room at the Punjab House. He submitted that the verdict had come about Rashid in the Ataul Haq Qasmi case.
After hearing arguments of both the parties, the tribunal dismissed the appeal filed by Pervaiz Rashid and upheld the decision of the returning officer.
Soon after the appeal's dismissal, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz took to Twitter. "Pervaiz Rashid is the name of a narrative, an ideology, and democracy. He is and will continue to be Nawaz Sharif's reliable companion and an asset of the party and the national politics,” she noted.
A PTI MPA had challenged Rashid’s nomination papers and the RO rejected his papers last week over failure to pay Punjab House dues.