Election process kicks off: ECP ignores last act of Parliament

Monday, March 25th, 2013 6:00:11 by

ISLAMABAD: In one of its last acts, the outgoing National Assembly had exempted election candidates from submitting nominations personally – but the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) says aspirants will have to appear in person before the returning officer. 

Parliament had amended the Representation of the People Act (ROPA), 1976 to purge it of the Pervez Musharraf-era rules. The ECP was, however, not informed about the changes accordingly. On Sunday – the first day of filing nomination papers – the commission announced that candidates have to submit nominations in person.

“Pursuant to the provisions of Section 12(3) of the Act, every nomination paper shall be delivered to the returning officer by the candidate in person, and the returning officer shall acknowledge receipt of the nomination papers specifying the date and time,” said a statement issued by the ECP.

“We [the commission] did not receive any intimation from Parliament that election laws have been changed. It means the process [amendment] has not been completed and old laws are still intact,” a senior ECP official told The Express Tribune.

According to the statement, Section 14(1) of ROPA provides that the candidate may attend the process of scrutiny of nomination papers in his own interest – “but in case he prefers to remain absent, his nomination papers cannot be rejected due to his failure to appear before the returning officer concerned on the date of scrutiny”.

“Candidates may file the certificate from their political parties showing their party affiliations either at the time of filing nomination papers or at the time of scrutiny or at the time of allocation of symbols on the date of withdrawal i.e. 18.4.2013, in terms of section 20A of the act,” it added.

The ECP clarified that the candidates who are filing nominations for the seats reserved for women and non-Muslims may attend the scrutiny of their papers. However, if they don’t, their nominations cannot be rejected on this very ground.

On March 12, the National Assembly had unanimously passed the Election Laws (Amendment) Act 2013.  Moved by PML-N’s Zahid Hamid the bill had sought an amendment in Section 12 (3) of ROPA and omission of Article 8EE in the Conduct of General Elections Order, 2002 (Chief Executive’s Order No 7 of 2002).

Both the treasury and opposition supported the bill saying that former military ruler Pervez Musharraf had changed the laws to prevent then PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif – who were in exile – from filing their nomination papers. Subsequently, the bill had sailed through the Senate.

Asked whether the commission has received any nomination paper on the first day, an ECP official said, “Candidates have collected nomination papers but it might take them two or three days to submit completed forms.”

JUI-F unveils candidates

The Maulana Fazlur Rehman-led faction of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam unveiled on Sunday its candidates for 14 National Assembly and 51 provincial assembly constituencies in Balochistan. JUI-F’s Deputy Amir Senator Hafiz Hamdullah announced the candidates at a news conference in Quetta.

Prominent among JUI-F candidates for National Assembly seats are Haji Manzoor Ahmed Mengal (NA-260), Hafiz Hamdullah (NA-259), Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani (NA-264), and Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haidari (NA-268).

Similarly, Syed Iqbal Shah Advocate will be contesting for PB–I, Maulana Noor Muhammad Barech for PB-11, Syed Matiullah Agha for PB-8, Maulana Abdul Wasay for PB-20 and Maulvi Muhammad Alam for PB-39.

PPP finalises candidates for 7 Lahore seats

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has also finalised its candidates for seven National Assembly seats in Lahore.

According to sources, Senior PPP leader Syed Asif Hashmi will be contesting for NA-118, PPP Punjab Finance Secretary Aurang Zeb Barki will be running for NA-121, PPP Lahore president Samina Khalid Ghurki will contest for NA-130. Similarly, Tariq Shabbir Mayo has been confirmed for NA-129 while PPP Punjab Vice President Haji Azizur Rehman Chan will be in the race for NA-123.

Similarly, the PPP has awarded ticket to M Naveed Chaudhary for NA-125 and Bushra Aitezaz for NA-124. Candidates for the rest of the constituencies will be finalized soon.

MQM to file nominations on 25

Candidates of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement will start filing nomination papers in central Punjab from March 25, Senior Vice President of the MQM Central Punjab chapter, Qazi Muteen Ahmad, told APP. He said Tahira Asif would submit her nomination papers on Monday for NA-127. Rabita Committee member Iftikhar Randhawa filed his papers in Khanewal on Sunday. (With additional input from Agencies)

Published in The Express Tribune, March 25th, 2013.

Quetta News Sources -2

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