Verdict reserved on Imran Khan’s plea for Mianwali nomination papers

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RAWALPINDI: An election tribunal on Sunday reserved its verdict on incarcerated Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan’s plea challenging the rejection of his nomination papers from his home city, Mianwali in Punjab — a constituency from which he won previous elections.

The former ruling party had moved to election tribunals to contest the rejection of the nomination papers he filed from Mianwali’s NA-89 constituency ahead of the February 8 general elections.

Justice Chaudhry Abdul Aziz heard the appeal filed by the deposed prime minister — who was removed from power via a parliamentary vote in April 2022 — against the returning officer’s (RO) decision to reject his nomination papers.

Barrister Ali Zafar, Umair Niazi and Lamia Niazi appeared before the tribunal while representing the PTI founder.

Meanwhile, the Director General (DG) Law Arshad Malik along with a legal team attended the hearing on behalf of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), whereas, Assistant Attorney General Tayyab Bilal gave arguments.

The judge questioned Khan’s lawyers why the candidate did not mention Toshakhana’s gifts and earnings after their sale in his asset details submitted with the nomination papers.

Barrister Ali argued that all Toshakhana items had been declared by the former premier in his asset details.

He added that an appeal was also being heard against Khan’s conviction, whereas, his sentence was also suspended in the Toshakhana case.

After hearing arguments from both sides, the election tribunal reserved its judgment on Khan’s plea which will be announced on January 10.

Barrister Ali, while talking to reporters post-hearing, stressed that an RO could not decide on anyone’s disqualification but a court. The disqualification could not be proven based on allegations, he added.

Despite roadblocks on his way to run in the most sought-after February 8 elections, the ousted premier had his nomination papers submitted from Lahore’s NA-122 and Mianwali’s NA-89 constituencies last month, 

However, the incarcerated PTI founder’s nomination papers had failed to sail through the scrutiny process as the provincial election commission officers declared him ‘a convicted individual’.

The development comes as a major blow to the party whose leadership is facing a plethora of cases — especially about the May 9 riots — with senior leaders, including Vice-Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi and others, behind bars.

The objections, raised by PML-N’s Mian Naseer, had referred to Khan’s five-year disqualification in the Toshakhana case wherein the electoral body had found him guilty of corrupt practices under Section 167 of the Elections Act, 2017.

From Toshakhana’s disqualification to having an illegitimate daughter and defaulting on Rs3.6 million social security funds, multiple objections were raised on Khan’s nomination papers filed from his NA-89 Mianwali stronghold.

Concurring with the objections, the returning officer had rejected the former prime minister’s nomination papers on December 22.