Punjab Senate race a walk in the park – almost

Friday, February 17th, 2012 5:30:15 by


For most applicants from Punjab, the race to the upper house was almost a walk in the park. The same could have been true for all of them, had one rejected applicant not decided to file an appeal.

The provincial election commissioner in Punjab accepted nomination papers of all applicants of three major political parties on Thursday, but rejected Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid’s lawmaker Sardar Mohsin Leghari’s application on grounds that his party has not awarded him a ticket to contest the Senate election.

Leghari, insisting that there is no bar to contest the Senate election as an independent candidate, said he would appeal against the rejection.

Elected unopposed

According to the election commission’s data, Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Ishaq Dar have unofficially been elected senators on technocrats’ seats since no one submitted nomination papers against them.

PML-N’s Kamran Michael, PPP’s Khalida Perveen and PML-N’s Nuzhat Sadiq have also been unofficially elected senators on the non-Muslim and two women seats respectively since their covering candidates, fielded by parties in case the main nominee’s application is rejected, withdrew their nomination papers.

The nomination papers of seven candidates for general seats have also been accepted and all their covering candidates have withdrawn their applications, paving the way for their unopposed election.

They are PML-N’s Zafarullah Dhandla, M Hamza, Rafique Rijwana and Sardar Zulfiqar Khan Khosa, PPP’s Aslam Gill and Babar Awan, and PML-Q’s Kamil Ali Agha.

The spoiler

Leghari’s appeal, however, could upset the entire arrangement.

“I will file an appeal before the provincial election commissioner on Monday,” he said.

“There is no law that bars me from contesting Senate elections as an independent candidate, without having any party ticket,” he added while talking with The Express Tribune.

“Candidate … has declared his party affiliation [as] PML but has not produced party ticket, so nomination has been rejected,” said a notification from the election commissioner.

The only requirement for application to Senate election is a proposal from one provincial lawmaker, and a second from another lawmaker, Leghari said.

He added that former speaker National Assembly Hamid Nasir Chatha had proposed him and PML-Q’s lawmaker Chaudhry Shafique Khan seconded it.

“There were two spaces for the status of candidate … I have ticked the box for an independent candidate” he said.

Advocate Supreme Court Salman Akram Raja will file his appeal in the provincial election commission at the beginning of next week, Leghari said, adding he would move the courts as well.

While a party ticket is not mandatory for contesting the Senate election, the PML-Q does not have a parliamentary board which sanctions or awards tickets, former speaker Chatha said while talking to The Express Tribune.

Without having an appropriate platform, the PML-Q awarded tickets arbitrarily to candidates, he said.

Leghari’s appeal would, most probably, not allow the Senate elections in Punjab go unopposed, he added.

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

Lahore News Sources -2

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