Imran Khan to contest by-Polls on 33 NA seats

From Abid Usman

LAHORE: The PTI announced on Sunday that it would take part in the by-elections on 33 National Assembly seats, adding that party chairman Im-ran Khan would contest for all the seats up for grabs.
Addressing a press conference after a meeting of the party’s core commit-tee in Lahore, PTI leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi said: “There was a long discussion and debate, and the party decided that it would participate in the by-polls for the 33 seats.”
He further said that Imran would be the party’s sole candidate on all 33 NA seats and lawmakers earlier elected on those seats would submit pa-perwork as “covering candidates”.
“So we have decided to take part in the polls,” he said. The Election Com-miss¬ion of Pakistan (ECP) on Friday issued the schedule for polls on 33 NA seats, setting March 16 as the polling date. The seats had fallen vacant after NA Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf accepted 35 more resignations of PTI lawmakers on Jan 17.
They included Asad Umar, Murad Saeed, Mohammad Hammad Azhar, Syed Ali Haider Zaidi, Shafqat Mahmood Khan, Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Hussain Qureshi, Zartaj Gul, Malik Mohammad Amir Dogar, Omar Ayub Khan, Asad Qaiser, Pervaiz Khattak, Sheharyar Afridi, Imran Khattak, Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Ali Amin Khan, Noorul Haq Qadri, Raja Khurram Shahzad Nawaz, Ali Nawaz Awan, Sadaqat Ali Khan, Shafique, Mansoor Hayat Khan, Fawad Ahmed, Sanaullah Khan Mastikhel, Faheem Khan, Saifur Rehman, Muhammad Alam¬gir Khan, Aftab Hussain Saddique, Attau¬llah, Aftab Jhangir, Mohammad Najeeb Haroon, Moham-mad Qasim Khan Suri and Awami Muslim League’s Sheikh Rashid.
The speaker later accepted more resignations in two parts followed by their de-notification by the ECP, taking the total number of those de-notified this month to 113, including 86 members elected on general seats, 23 on reserved seats for women and four on reserved seats for religious minorities.
According to the schedule, the returning officers (ROs) will issue a public notice in this regard on Feb 3 while candidates will be able to file their nomination papers with the ROs from Feb 6 to 8, followed by the issuance of a list of the nominated candidates the next day.
Scrutiny of documents will be carried out till Feb 13, followed by the publi-cation of a revised list of candidates on Feb 21. However, contesting candi-dates will be able to withdraw their candidature by the next day and the fi-nal list of candidates will be issued the same day.
The candidates will be allotted election symbols on February 23 and polling will be conducted on March 16.
During Sunday’s media talk, Qureshi also spoke about the delay in con-ducting elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab. He said that the PTI’s core committee had passed a resolution in this regard.
“A delay in the commencement of elections under the guise of any reason would be equivalent to an attack on the Constitution, which will be liable to legal action under Article 6 (high treason) of the Constitution,” he said as he read the resolution out loud.
At the same time, the PTI also called on President Arif Alvi to take “imme-diate notice of the intelligence agencies’ and other powerful forces’ increas-ing interference in national political matters”.
PTI Secretary General Asad Umar read out another resolution passed by the party’s core committee, saying, “The PTI leadership wishes to direct the attention of the president and the supreme commander of the armed forces towards the statement by the KP governor that the KP elections’ date will be given by the agencies and the establishment.”
He added, “PTI demands the president to take immediate notice of the in-telligence agencies’ and other powerful forces’ increasing interference in national political matters.”
He further asked the president to take notice of the “false cases against the PTI workers and leaders, their kidnappings, judicial torture on them, and threatening phone calls made to them on the directions of a few black sheep in the state institutions”.
Asserting that these actions were negatively impacting the reputations of the country’s institutions, Umar asked the president to enquire about the “black sheep that the PTI and free media have been pointing out”.
The PTI also passed a resolution condemning the arrest of party leader Fawad Chaudhry. “The PTI leadership strongly condemns Fawad Chaudhry’s kidnapping and the false case registered against him, and ex-presses serious concern over his physical remand being granted and the terrorist-like conduct adopted with him,” Qureshi said.
He claimed the treatment being meted out to Fawad was strictly against Article 14 of the Constitution (inviolability of dignity of man, etc) and “equivalent to a massacre of justice”.
Chaudhry’s wife Hiba Fawad — who was also present — requested Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial to take a suo moto notice of the fact that her daughters were not being allowed to meet their father. She also thanked Imran for inviting her to yesterday’s meeting and listening to her concerns.