Senator Raza Rabbani’s pullout from the presidential race has not only left political parties ‘disappointed’ but also reduced it to a contest between Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
On Friday, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), acting in the role of a returning officer, rejected 19 out of the total 24 nominations filed for presidential elections from across the country. These included Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) candidate Senator Rabbani.
He decided to pull out of the race after his party decided to boycott the presidential elections in protesting Supreme Court’s judgment making the ECP to shift the elections’ schedule. The PPP’s boycott turned the election into a two-way race between PML-N’s Mamnoon Hussain and PTI’s Justice (retd) Wajihuddin Ahmad whose nominations were accepted by the ECP on Friday.
The ruling party in the centre had fielded Senator Iqbal Zaffar Jhagra as its covering candidate for Hussain. Jhagra’s papers were also accepted.
Nominations for Justice (Retd) Wajihuddin Ahmad were filed from both Karachi and Lahore.
The ECP said most of the 19 rejected candidates did not have members or parliament or provincial assemblies’ members as their proposers or seconders. Under the rules for presidential elections, any Muslim citizen of Pakistan over the age of 45 is eligible to contest the election if his proposer or seconder is a member of parliament.
Most of the rejected candidates did not have any proposer while the others did not fulfil the condition of belonging to parliament. A candidate from Karachi Shakil Ahmed Khan had himself suggested Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as his proposer and President Asif Ali Zardari as his seconder. Neither of them gave their endorsements in person and Khan’s nomination was rejected.
No one filed nominations from Quetta provincial office of ECP while only one candidate filed from Peshawar only to be rejected for lacking both a seconder and a proposer.
The ECP has allowed candidates to withdraw nominations until 12 noon on Saturday after which the final list of candidates will be released.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2013.