PESHAWAR/ ISLAMABAD/ LAHORE/ KARACHI:
Twenty-three hopefuls, including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s candidate Mamnoon Hussain and rival Pakistan Peoples Party’s candidate Senator Raza Rabbani, filed their nomination papers for presidential elections before presiding officers as the deadline for submission ended on Wednesday.
Both Mamnoon Hussain – widely tipped as the country’s next president – and Rabbani submitted their papers before Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Muhammad Anwar Khan Kasi, along with nine other candidates. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s candidate Justice (retd) Wajihuddin Ahmad, meanwhile, filed his nomination papers before both Lahore High Court and Sindh High Court chief justices.
Hussain reached the court accompanied by PML-N spokesperson Mushahidullah Khan and general secretary Iqbal Zafar Jhagra – who submitted papers as well as the party’s covering candidate. Talking to reporters outside the IHC, he vowed to surrender his party membership if elected as the country’s 11th head of state.
“I will surrender my PML-N membership if elected since the president of the country is a symbol of the federation.”
Talking about the multiple challenges before the country, Hussain called for harmony and maintained PML-N would take all stakeholders along to tackle the crisis. “We have to continue in the spirit of 1947 to make Pakistan stable and prosperous,” he said, noting that the country came into being in the month of Ramazan.
On the other hand, Rabbani, who was accompanied by opposition leader Khursheed Shah, Senator Aitzaz Ahsan and Rehman Malik, vowed to strengthen democracy if elected president. “PPP has always tried to strengthen the federation… the 18th amendment is the best example of this,” he told reporters.
In Lahore, PTI MPAs Mehmoodur Rashid and Dr Murad Ras submitted nomination papers on behalf of Justice Wajihuddin before LHC Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial. In Karachi, PTI MNA Dr Arif Alvi filed the papers of his party’s presidential candidate before SHC Chief Justice Mushir Alam.
Talking to reporters outside the LHC premises, Rashid – who is the leader of opposition in the Punjab Assembly – said that although PTI may not have the numbers to get Justice Wajihuddin elected, it would still contest for the slot since it will not support the candidate of ‘any political party which has damaged the country’s economy’.
The LHC chief justice received papers from six other candidates as well. Likewise in Karachi, six more candidates submitted their papers before the SHC chief justice.
Qaumi Ittehad Party chairman Munir Ahmad Shirazi was the only candidate to submit his papers before Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan.
According to the Election Commission of Pakistan, no candidate filed his nomination papers before the Balochistan High Court Chief Justice.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2013.