Poll-prep enters next phase after nominations filed

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LAHORE/QUETTA/RAWAL­PINDI/KARACHI: The 2024 general elections entered the next phase after the extended deadline for the submission of nomination papers for the national and provincial constituencies ended on Sunday evening, with a number of prominent politicians having thrown their hats in the electoral ring.

Since the final lists of the eligible candidates contesting elections will be made public by the Ele­c­tion Commission of Pakis­tan after the completion of the scrutiny process over the next few days, tough contests are expected in various constituencies.

In Punjab, a large number of candidates or their representatives rushed to the offices of their respective returning officers to file nomination papers.

According to reports, Lahore’s 14 NA and 30 provincial constituencies attr­a­cted nomination papers from as many as 600 candidates. Those who filed papers included Atta Tarar (PML-N), Ijaz Buttar (PTI) and Asif Hashmi (PPP) in NA-117; Hamza Shehbaz (PML-N) and Muhammad Madni (PTI) in NA-118; Maryam Nawaz (PML-N), Aleem Khan (IPP) and Hafiz Rauf in NA-119; Maryam Nawaz, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and Atta Tarar in NA 120 and Sheikh Rohail Asghar, Ayaz Sadiq and Ch Javaid in NA 121.

Imran Khan, Sardar Latif Khosa, Azhar Siddi­que, Khawaja Saad Rafi­que, Salman Rafiq and Hafiz Talha in NA-122; and Shehbaz Sharif, Liaqat Baloch in NA-123 filed their papers for polls.

In NA-124, 125, 126, 127, 128 and 129, Aun Chau­dhry, Rana Zamir, Afzal Khokhar, Ameerul Azeem, Karamat Khokhar, Saiful Malook Khokhar, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Shaista Pervaiz Malik, Khawaja Ahmad Hassan, Shafqat Mahmood, Hammad Azhar, and Mehr Ishtiaq filed their nomination papers. PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif and PTI leader Dr Yasmin Rashid filed papers for NA-130.

“I think, on various seats of Lahore, tough contests are expected. These include NA-130 where Ms Rashid may give tough time to Nawaz Sharif,” said one political activist.

Maryam Nawaz’s papers were also filed in PP-80 (Sargodha). According to reports, there would be tough competition in NA-82 (Sargodha-I) between PML-N candidate Dr Mukhtar Ahmad Bharath and PPP nominee Nadeem Afzal Chan.

Another contest is between Mohsin Shah Nawaz Ranjha and independent Aamer Sultan Ranjha in NA-83.

“In the absence of PTI, PML-N is in the commanding position all over Sargodha,” a local political observer while talking to Dawn on Sunday.

Though other parties’ candidates have also started preparations to launch election campaigns in their constituencies in Punjab and other provinces, the PML-N candidates seem very confident.

“I will win,” said Hafiz Mian Nauman, a PML-N candidate for NA-128 —the constituency consisting of Gulberg, Ichhra and several other localities of Lahore.

“I think there would be no issue in terms of our success, as our strategy would be very effective,” a confident Nauman who will face the PTI’s candidate Salman Akram Raja claimed. “The contest may be tough. But I am not worried since we will have a very good campaign to win this election easily.”

‘Without hustle & bustle’

In Rawalpindi, the process of nomination papers submission was completed on Sunday but the traditional hustle and bustle was missing.

Mostly bigwigs of political parties submitted their nominations on the first two days. Though the ECP extended two days, there was less activity outside the returning officers’ offices as most people arrived without any big rallies.

As many as 228 people submitted papers for seven NA and 13 provincial assembly seats in Rawalpindi district. For NA-52 (Gujar Khan), 29 people filed nomination papers, including Raja Pervaiz Ashraf. For NA-53, 34 people submitted their papers, including Chau­dhry Nisar Ali Khan, Ghulam Sarwar, and Raja Hamid Nawaz.

For NA-56, 44 people filed nomination papers, including Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Tariq Mehboob Kiani, Danyal Chaudhry, Hanif Abbasi, and Sajjad Khan. For NA-57, 40 people submitted their nomination papers, including Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Danyal Chaudhry, Hanif Abbasi, and Sajjad Khan.

Unlike other general elections, people associated with the PTI maintained a low profile. Sheikh Rashid also submitted his nomination papers through his nephew. In the past, he used to go to the RO office with a big entourage. This time, supporters only accompanied PML-N candidates.

“Most of the PTI nominee submitted the nomination papers for city seats and visited the offices of the ECP without gatherings to avoid arrest or snatching of nomination papers. The situation in Rawalpindi was calm and peaceful,” said PTI leader Raja Tariq Kiani.

Former interior minister Sheikh Rashid’s nephew Sheikh Rashid Shafique said that PTI President Parvez Elahi assured them of the PTI support for the two constituencies of the National Assembly. He claimed that the PTI and JI would support Sheikh Rashid in the election.

In a surprising move on the last day of nomination papers submission, two PML-N leaders Chaudhry Daniyal, son of Chaudhry Tanveer, and Sajjad Khan, who had already submitted nomination papers for NA seats, also filed papers for provincial assembly seats.

Sindh

According to statistics collected from the offices of returning officers at Karachi Division, a total of around 2,850 nomination papers have been submitted on 22 NA and 47 Sindh assembly seats in Karachi.

Around 815 nomination papers have been submitted on 22 general seats of National Assembly and around 2,030 aspirants filed papers on 47 general seats of provincial assembly.

The office of the Election Commissioner Sindh could not release the consolidated data of nomination papers about Sindh or Karachi until the filing of this report.

In Karachi, MQM-P convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui filed his nomination papers for NA-248 (Central-II), NA-249 (Central-III), and NA-250 (Central-IV).

JI Karachi chief Hafiz Naeemur Rehman filed papers in NA-248 (Cen­tral-II) and NA-250 (Cent­ral-IV), whereas PTI leader Syed Firdous Shamim Naqvi and MQM-P leader Arshad Vohra submitted their papers for NA-248.

MQM-P leader Syed Mustafa Kamal filed papers for NA-247 and NA-242 (Keamari-I), Khawaja Izharul Hasan also filed papers for NA-247, and Farooq Sattar filed nomination papers for NA-244 (West-I). In Hyderabad, at least 446 nomination papers were submitted for two NA and six provincial assembly seats. In NA-218, PPP leader Syed Hussain Tariq Shah Jamote and Khawand Bux Jahejo of the PTI will face off.

For NA-219, Nawab Rashid, formerly of PSP and now in MQM as well as his party colleagues, Sohail Mehmood (Mashhadi) and Syed Waseem Hussain; Dr Irfan Gul Magsi of PPP; Merajul Huda Siddiqui and Tahir Majeed of JI; Mustansir Billa of PTI filed papers. For NA-220, Dr Irfan Gul Magsi, Nizam Arain and Mukhtiar Ahmed Dhamrah of PPP, Rasheed Ahmed Khan, Salahuddin, Mohammad Dilawar Qureshi and Waseem Hussain of MQM, Tahir Majeed of JI; Abul Khair Zubair of JUP (Noorani) filed papers.

In Naushahro Feroze, NA-205, a total of 28 candidates filed nomination papers whereas in NA-206, a total of 23 candidates submitted their nomination forms.

In Sanghar district, 32 candidates filed nomination papers for NA-209 and 20 candidates submitted papers for NA-210. In Shaheed Benazirabad, a total of 17 candidates filed nomination papers for NA-207 whereas 19 candidates filed papers for NA-208. In Umerkot, one NA and three provincial assembly seats attracted papers from 91 candidates.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

In Khyber Pakhtun­khwa, PTI leaders Azam Swati and Murad Saeed submitted papers for NA-15 Mansehra and NA-3 and NA-4 seats respectively.

For the lone NA seat in Lakki Marwat, several notables have filed their papers including former ministers Salim Saifullah and Anwar Saifullah, former senator Usman Saifullah, PTI leader Sher Afzal Khan Marwat, and JUI-F leader Maulana Asjad Mehmood

Similarly, former NA speaker Asad Qaiser, ex-provincial minister Maulana Fazal Ali of JUI-F and Shahnawaz Khan of ANP submitted papers for NA-19 in Swabi.

Balochistan

In Balochistan, more than 1,600 candidates submitted papers for 16 NA and 51 provincial assembly seats. Though the time for submitting nomination papers ended at 4:30pm, the commission allowed candidates — already in the office — to submit their papers after the deadline. The number of total candidates may increase since the commission has yet to receive papers from remote areas of the province.

PkMAP Chairman Mehmood Khan Achakzai has filed nomination papers from three NA seats, including Quetta, Pishin and Qila Abdullah. Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani filed papers for Quetta and Chagai seats whereas BNP-M President Akhtar Mengal will contest polls on Quetta and Khuzdar seats.

Other candidates included Nawab Aslam Raisani, former CM Dr Abdul Malik, Sanaullah Zehri, Nawabzada Haji Lashkri Raisani and Changez Jamali.

Election tribunals

Meanwhile, the ECP has appointed appellate tribunals for the disposal of appeals against the decisions of the returning officers regarding rejection or acceptance of nomination papers of candidates for general elections 2024.

The tribunals will take appeals on National Assem­­bly, all provincial assembly constituencies and seats reserved for women and non-Muslims with the jurisdiction mentioned against each tribunal.

According to an ECP notification, 24 tribunals will be set up, including nine in Punjab, six in Sindh, five in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and two each in Balochistan and Islamabad.

Syed Irfan Raza in Islamabad, Mohammad Hussain Khan in Hyderabad, Zulfiqar Memon in Nawabshah, A.B. Arisar in Umerkot and our Peshawar bureau also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, December 25th, 2023