ROs to allocate poll symbols today

ROs to allocate poll symbols today

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: Marking an important phase of the general elections due in less than a month, returning officers (ROs) will allocate poll symbols to electoral candidates today (Saturday).

This phase will coincide with a crucial hearing at the Supreme Court to decide if the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) will play its election innings with or without “bat”.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has already sent a list of 145 symbols to be allotted to candidates belonging to various political parties, along with a separate list for independent candidates. In a related development, the ECP on Friday delisted 13 political parties for failure to hold intra-party elections and allowed two political parties to participate in the general elections.

The five-member bench of the commission, headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, announced the reserved judgements regarding the case of intra-party elections of 15 political parties.

Ticket denials spark wave of independent candidacies; Achakzai withdraws in favour of Fazlur Rehman

Through its verdicts, the ECP has allotted an election symbol to Pakistan Muslim League (Jinnah), while Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam Noorani has also been allowed to contest the elections. JUI-N was allowed to contest polls after it addressed the observations pointed out by the ECP office. Likewise, PML-J got the nod after its request for condoning a delay of one and a half months in relation to the intra-party polls and office-bearers was accepted.

However, All Pakistan Minority Alliance, All Pakistan Tehreek, Awami Party Pakistan, Bahawalpur National Awami Party, Sabka Pakistan, National Peace Council Party, Pakistan National Muslim League, Pakistan Aman Party, Pakistan Barabari Party, Christian Awami Party, Pakistan National Solidarity Party, Sunni Tehreek, and Nizam-i-Mustafa Party have been delisted for not holding intra-party polls.

Disgruntled figures refuse to leave field In an interesting turn of events, many candidates from political parties have announced their intention to contest polls as independent candidates after being denied party tickets.

Sumera Malik, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Punjab vice president, said that she would contest NA-87 as an independent candidate. Ms Malik also mentioned that her other group members would also contest independently from the district, as the PML-N had favoured Shakir Awan over her.

Earlier, PML-N stalwart Daniyal Aziz announced his independent candidacy from NA-75, Narowal, where the PML-N had awarded a ticket to Chaudhry Anwaarul Haq. Mr Aziz added that his wife would also contest independently for a provincial assembly seat in Narowal.

Ayesha Rajab Baloch, a former PML-N lawmaker from Faisalabad, was also denied a party ticket and has announced her intention to contest the elections independently.

The Sharifs’ party has announced its candidates for most National and Punjab Assembly seats across the province, favouring electables from the south and PTI defectors.

In some constituencies, potential PML-N candidates protested against the leadership for depriving them of tickets to accommodate “turncoats” and others.

PPP ticket aspirants

A local leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Dr Irfan Gul Magsi, who failed to secure the party’s ticket for any seat, did not withdraw his nomination papers filed for three constituencies in Hyderabad district.

Dr Magsi had submitted forms for PS-60 (Qasimabad), PS-64 (Hyderabad city), and NA-220 (Hyderabad city). The PPP has awarded the ticket to Jam Khan Shoro for PS-60, Mukhtiar Ahmed alias Aajiz Dhamra for PS-64, and Wasim Rajput for NA-220.

In the general polls of July 2018, Dr Magsi was awarded the ticket for NA-220 but was later asked to withdraw the papers in favour of Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan-Noorani’s Sahibzada Abul Khair Mohammad Zubair, who, however, lost to MQM.

Nawab Muhammad Khan Shahwani is contesting as an independent candidate from NA-261 Mastung-Kalat and PB-37 Mastung after not being awarded a ticket by the PPP. Tahir Mehmood, Liaquat Lehri, and Sana Durrani, a prominent PPP woman wing leader, were also contesting independently.

JUI-F and PkMAP seat adjustment

Separately, in a relevant development, Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) chairman Mahmood Khan Achakzai has withdrawn his nomination papers in favour of JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman from NA-265 (Pishin).

The JUI-F chief is contesting the National Assembly election for the first time outside his home constituency, Dera Ismail Khan, and has chosen NA-265 (Pishin) in Balochistan, considering it a stronghold of JUI-F.

He is also contesting the election for the National Assembly from his home constituency, where he had lost in 2018 against PTI’s Amin Gandapur.

Mr Achakzai had filed his nomination papers from NA-265 (Pishin) and NA-263 (Quetta).

However, in view of an understanding between JUI-F and PkMAP, it was decided that Mr Achakzai would support Maulana Rehman at NA-265, and JUI-F would withdraw its candidate at NA-263 against Mr Achakzai.

After the withdrawal of Mr Achakzai’s nomination papers from Pishin, the JUI-F senior leader Mufti Rozi Khan withdrew his nomination papers from NA-263.

Mohammad Hussain Khan in Hyderabad and Saleem Shahid in Quetta also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2024