Elections 2018: Key political leaders cleared for July 25 battle; Shahbaz cleared contest from five NA seats, Bilawal from two NA seats, Imran Khan

LAHORE: ICMD, June 19, 2018 As the scrutiny of nomination papers ended on Tuesday, the nomination papers of several key political leaders were accepted, while some suffered setbacks as well. The Election Commission of Pakistan will start accepting appeals against decisions taken during the scrutiny stage from today up to June 22. Once decisions have been reached on appeals, a final list of candidates will be released by the Election Commission of Pakistan on June 28. PML-N, PPP, and PTI In the PML-N, all members of the Sharif family who submitted papers with the ECP were given a green signal to contest elections. Party president Shahbaz Sharif’s nomination papers were accepted for Lahore’s NA-132, Karachi’s NA-249 and NA-250, and NA-3 in Swat. Hamza Shahbaz was cleared to contest the election from NA-132, NA-124 and PP-146 constituencies of Lahore. PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz’s candidacy for PP-173 was approved on Tuesday. A day earlier, her papers were approved for NA-125. Former PM Shahid Khaqqan Abbasi’s papers for NA-53 Islamabad were rejected on grounds that a mandatory affidavit was not filled properly. Ayaz Sadiq, the former speaker of the National Assembly, was cleared to contest the polls from Lahore’s NA-129. Former interior minister Ahsan Iqbal was cleared to contest from his hometown constituency of NA-78 (Narowal), while PML-N’s KP leader Amir Muqam’s papers from approved for PK-4 in Swat. On Monday, former Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah’s candidacy for NA-106 in Faisalabad was also approved after he appeared before the RO amid tight security. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s papers were accepted for NA-246 in Karachi. Former president Asif Ali Zardari was cleared to contest the polls from NA-213 in Nawabshah as two petitioners withdrew objections against his candidature. Objections against PPP leader Faryal Talpur’s papers filed for PS-10 Larkana were dismissed on Monday after her counsel presented arguments before the RO. Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan’s nomination papers were accepted for NA seats in Karachi, Bannu, Dera Ghazi Khan, but his papers for NA-53 Islamabad were rejected on grounds that an affidavit required to be filled by candidates was incomplete. Among PTI leaders cleared for the elections on Tuesday were Aleem Khan and his wife, Kiran Aleem, whose papers were approved for Lahore’s NA-131 and NA-129, respectively. Aleem Khan will also contest the election from PP-148 Lahore. Other parties Other prominent candidates whose papers were approved on Tuesday included social activist Jibran Nasir (NA-247 Karachi). Objections on PSP leader Fauzia Kasuri’s nomination papers for NA-247 were reportedly withdrawn after she presented a document certifying that she had renounced her foreign nationality. Jamiat Ulema-e Islam (F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s papers were approved for NA-38 in Dera Ismail Khan, veteran politician Javed Hashmi’s for NA-155 in Multan, and Qaumi Watan Party chairperson Aftab Sherpao’s for NA-23 in Charsadda. Disgruntled N-leaguer Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan’s nomination papers were accepted for NA-63 in Taxila. Former PPP leader Zulfiqar Mirza, who recently joined the Grand Democratic Alliance, was allowed to contest elections from PS-74 in Badin, while estranged PTI leader Ayesha Gulalai’s papers were approved from NA-231 in Sajawal. Former speaker of the Balochistan Assembly, Raheela Hameed Khan Durrani, was allowed to contest from NA-265, while former federal minister for religious affairs Hamid Saeed Kazmi’s papers were approved from NA-175 in Liaquatpur. Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai’s nomination papers for NA-263 in Qilla Abdullah were also approved, along with those of former Balochistan chief minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri for PB-38 in Khuzdar. Rejected On Tuesday, MQM-Pakistan leader Farooq Sattar’s papers were rejected from NA-245 Karachi on grounds that he had not disclosed in the affidavit that he was absconding from the court in two FIRs registered on hate speech charges pertaining to speeches made in 2015 by MQM-London chief Altaf Hussain. General (retd) Pervaiz Musharraf’s papers were rejected from NA-1 Chitral. These and other contestants who suffered setbacks during the scrutiny phase can file appeals against the rejection decisions with tribunals formed for the purpose across the country. 24% decline in nomination paper submissions A total of 21,482 nomination papers were filed across the country for national and provincial assembly seats, according to the ECP. Of these, 6,063 were for NA seats, while 15,419 for provincial assembly seats. A comparison of 2018 figures with the 2013 election data shows that submission of nomination papers has declined by around 24 percent over the two election cycles. In 2013, 28,302 contenders submitted papers for various national and provincial assembly seats.

Enforced disappearances in Sindh: Families and friends continue hunger strike on Eid day in Karachi

KARACHI: ICR, June 16, 2018 Hunger strike against enforced disappearances in Sindh continues on Eid Day at the Karachi Press Club and the family members and friends of missing persons are demanding to release their loved ones. The protestors had announced to celebrate Eid at the camp where a number of activists, writers, intellectuals and family members of some missing persons are observing a 3-day hunger strike. The protestors offered Eid prayers at the camp and raised slogans against the disappearances in the province where HRCC, a body of Sindhi intellectuals and activists claim over 400 people are missing since 2004. Sorath Lohar, Sasui Lohar, Neelam Arijo, Tanveer Arijo, Ghulam Fatima Lohar, Sarang Lohar, Bela Arijo, Singhar Arijo, Waseem Arijo, Taj Joyo, Amir Azad, activists of Sindh United Party, representatives of bar council, HRCP, Pakistan Fisher Folk Forum and many others participated in the protest. Sorath Lohar, the leader of VMPS said they would start a 7-day hunger strike in Hyderabad from June 24.

Three missing persons set free in Sindh; VMPS resumes hunger strike in Karachi

Human Rights Coordination Committee demands to release all missing persons before Eid KARACHI: ICR, June 15, 2018 In a positive development, three persons who were among those missing in Sindh have been set free and they have safely reached their homes. Sorath Lohar, the Convenor of ‘Voice for Missing Persons of Sindh’ (VMPS) congratulated the families who finally embraced their loved ones. They include Kaleem Tunio, Azad Bhangwar, and Kazi Jan Mohammad. In Hyderabad, the leaders of ‘Human Rights Coordination Committee’ (HRCC) on Friday demanded to release all missing persons so that they could celebrate Eid with their families. Prof Imdad Chandio, Jami Chandio, Bakhshal Thalho, Haseen Musarat and Punhal Sario said enforced disappearances in Sindh had created a huge social and political crisis across the province. The same day, VMPS along with a number of writers and activists again set up a camp in front of Karachi Press Club and started hunger strike against enforced disappearances in Sindh. Sorath Lohar and her team announced they would celebrate Eid at the camp. The organization would go for yet another round of hunger strike in Hyderabad from June 24, 2018. Meanwhile, protestors continued their hunger strike in Larkana against the disappearance of one Aqib Chandio. Belonging to Madina Colony, he was picked up two weeks back. A camp has been set up in front of Larkana Press Club by his family members and friends. HRCC leaders in Hyderabad appealed to the authorities to produce missing persons in the courts if they were involved in cases. Punhal Sario said as many as 400 persons were missing since 2004 adding 17 people were killed and their dead bodies were dumped in the province.

Election 2018: Over 100 candidates found bank defaulters; SBP declares their particulars extremely dubious

ICMD, June 12, 2018 The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), during its scrutiny of candidates for the 2018 general elections, has so far found that more than 100 candidates are bank defaulters, ECP sources say. The SBP has declared the particulars submitted by these candidates as "extremely dubious". According to the SBP report, which has reportedly been sent to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), PPP's Hina Rabbani Khar and Mian Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo — a hopeful from NA-143, NA-144 and PP-186 — have their names on the list. Ahmed Shah Khagga (PP-193), Ghulam Ahmed Shah (PP-193), Asim Irshad Khan (NA-124), Ameer Ahmed Siyal (NA-116), Khalid Masood (NA-30), Abdul Sattar Bachani and Zulfiqar Bachani (both from NA-224), Ameer Waliuddin Chishti (NA-256), Ayaz Khan (NA-257) and Changez Khan (NA-258) are also among the defaulters.

Khawaja Haris recuses himself from Sharif family’s corruption cases; Nawaz seeks time to decide for engaging a new lawyer

ICMD, June 11, 2018 Lawyer Khawaja Haris on Monday recused himself from fighting corruption references filed by NAB against Nawaz Sharif and his family. Haris formally withdrew from the case as accountability court led by Judge Muhammad Bashir resumed proceedings in the Al-Azizia reference. The Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) on Sunday had given one month to the court to wrap up all three references and directed it to hear the cases six days a week. Haris told the accountability judge that it was not possible for him to pursue these cases under such pressure, saying he could not work on Saturdays and Sundays. Now, Nawaz Sharif has either to convince Haris to review his decision or engage another lawyer. When asked by the court, he sought some time to make a decision in this regard and requested the court to adjourn proceedings for a few days. Haris told media that he spends the weekend preparing his arguments, which is why he would not be able to continue with the case if court proceedings are held on Saturdays. He added that it would also be unsuitable for his clients if he was unable to prepare his arguments for their cases in advance. Haris also said that when he believes that he cannot do justice to his job it is better to recuse himself from the case. Haris was scheduled to cross-examine JIT head Wajid Zia in today's hearing. However, the court proceedings were adjourned following Haris's decision to recuse himself.