Senate nominations : Candidates declare assets, not sans controversy

Various petitioners challenge details furnished by candidates.

Zahid Gishkori February 17, 2012


As asset declarations of Senate candidates were made public on Thursday, various petitioners rushed forward to challenge them with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

Credential of four candidates – ruling Pakistan Peoples Party’s Aitzaz Ahsan and Dr Babar Awan and opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s Zulfiqar Khosa and Sardar Zafarullah Khan Dhandhla – have been challenged, a senior ECP official said.

The ECP is reviewing the applications, and asset declaration, submitted by 166 candidates against 54 Senate seats.

The asset declarations will be scrutinised on Friday, while appeals against rejection and acceptance of nomination papers can be filed on Monday and Tuesday, officials said.

The ECP will subsequently conduct a hearing before an election commission board on Wednesday and Thursday. On February 24, candidates who wish to withdraw can intimate the ECP and a final list of candidates will be published.

Who owns what?

Aitzaz and his wife own 150 acres of land and have Rs116 million in around 20 bank accounts, said officials dealing with scrutiny process. He has paid Rs5,592 in land revenue per year, for the last three years.

Awan, meanwhile, has property in Spain worth Rs20.5 million, two vehicles, agricultural land worth Rs20 million, bank accounts containing Rs70.78 million and investments in a bank and a private company worth Rs30.4 million. Awan also owns a house in Islamabad worth Rs30 million and an office in Lahore worth Rs2 million.

PML-N’s Khosa owns around 99 acres of land, has Rs0.7 million in his bank account, and has paid Rs7,000 as land revenue annually for the last three years. PML-N’s Dhandhla has Rs0.5 million, two vehicles and 324 acres of land and paid Rs3, 000 as land revenue in 2010-11.

Tax default allegations

The four aforementioned candidates are ineligible to run for Senate elections since they are tax defaulters, or have rendered legal services to the government, said Senior Advocate Shahid Jami, one of the petitioners who have challenged the asset declarations.

The returning officer, however, refused to entertain an application, saying he had already accepted the nomination papers of all the candidates, Jami said.

He added that he would file his application to the chief election commissioner in Islamabad in the coming days, and if his petition is not entertained there, he would move to the higher judiciary.

Jami, in his application, has asserted that the candidates are only paying insufficient, land-based tax whereas according to Punjab Agricultural Income Tax (Amendment) Ordinance, 2001/2002, the levy is income-based or land-based, which ever is higher.

Given that the levy rate is Rs250 per acre, Aitzaz should have paid at least Rs25,000, against Rs5,592 that he paid; Khosa, who paid Rs7,000, should have paid Rs24,750; Dhandhla, who paid Rs3,000, should have paid at least Rs81,000, Jami said.

He added that both Aitzaz and Babar have rendered services to the federal government and therefore stand disqualified under Article 63 (1)(n) of the Constitution.

With additional input from Abdul Manan in Lahore.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 17th, 2012.


Imran | 9 years ago | Reply

Biggest joke: 1. PML-N’s Khosa has just Rs0.7 million in his bank account despite owning around 99 acres of land. 2. PML-N’s Dhandhla has mere Rs0.5 million.

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