ISLAMABAD/ KARACHI/ KASUR:
Former president Pervez Musharraf’s fledgling electoral campaign suffered a heavy setback on Friday after his nomination papers for NA 139 Kasur II were rejected, followed by his own decision to withdraw his nomination for NA 48 Islamabad.
Musharraf’s nomination papers for NA 139 – which were filed on his behalf by Haji Mohammad Sharif, the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) candidate for the PP 178 seat – were rejected on the basis of six objections raised by Advocate Javed Kasuri and Kasur district bar association general secretary Khalid Latif.
Kasuri and Latif contended that Musharraf had violated both article 6 of the Constitution and the oath he took when he joined the army. Kasuri and Latif also brought up the Lal Masjid incident and Nawab Akbar Bugti’s killing, accusing the former president of murdering the Baloch leader and students of the seminary. The two lawyers also accused the former president of submitting papers with a forged signature. They also brought up the fact that Musharraf did not belong to the constituency in question.
The two lawyers argued that Musharraf did not even honour the returning officer’s notice to appear before the court. While a lawyer was present on the former president’s behalf, Musharraf did not appear in person.
Following Musharraf’s failure to respond to the allegations, NA 139 returning officer Mohammad Saleem rejected his nomination forms. Talking to The Express Tribune, the officer said the former president’s papers had been rejected because he had violated the oath he took upon joining the army, and not because of the other five objections.
Mere hours after his nomination papers were rejected in Kasur, the former president was also compelled to pull out of NA 48 Islamabad due to a possible threat to his life.
“We were informed of a serious threat to General Musharraf’s life in the capital … This has forced us to withdraw his nomination for this constituency,” a top APML official told The Express Tribune.
The Lal Masjid is located within the NA 48 constituency. Musharraf was both the president and the chief of army staff when a military operation was carried out at the seminary in 2007.
APML sources maintained the former president was much more optimistic about his chances in the other two constituencies he has filed nomination papers for: NA 250 Karachi-XII and NA 32 Chitral. Musharraf expects support in Chitral due to development work conducted in the constituency, including the resumption of work on the Lowari tunnel, under his rule. In Karachi, meanwhile, the general is banking on support from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement.
Despite this, Musharraf’s campaign in Karachi is under threat as well.
The Jamaat-e-Islami challenged Musharraf’s nomination papers for NA 250, again on the basis of articles 6, 62 and 63 of the Constitution. In a petition filed before Returning Officer Raja Arif Sultan, JI argued the former president was also guilty of breaching his constitutional oath by staging the 1999 coup.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz on Friday filed a petition with the Election Commission of Pakistan, urging it to bar Musharraf from contesting the elections from any constituency in the country.
The petition, filed by PML-N Additional Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal through his counsel Barrister Zafarullah Khan, states that the former president repeatedly abrogated, suspended or held in abeyance the Constitution and as such committed an act of high treason.
It further states that Musharraf is also wanted in various cases, including those regarding the Lal Masjid operation, the killings of Benazir Bhutto and Nawab Akbar Bugti, the disappearances of several people without due process of law and the arrest of the judges of the superior courts.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 6th, 2013.