Will PTI’s Money Trail Lead To Aabpara?

SMQ Javed Hashmi Imran Khan

Rumours have surrounded PTI since its miraculous rise from being essentially of party of one man to the second largest party over the course of a single term. Imran’s popularity has never been in doubt, of course. Actually, he is admired and respected for both his cricket career and equally his charity work even by many who are uncomfortable with his brand of quasi-religious hyper-nationalist politics. So even while he has been surrounded by rumours, they have rarely been about Imran Khan than about his party more generally.

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55 charged terrorists allowed to contest polls

55 charged terrorists allowed to contest polls








ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has simply failed to prevent 55 candidates from the Punjab, belonging to 10 different sectarian groups, from contesting the general elections despite the fact that intelligence agencies had warned the ECP that they were on terrorist lists and had provided all the names.

These names are also listed on the 4th Schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 for their alleged involvement in terrorist activities.According to well-informed sources in the Ministry of Interior, the intelligence agencies had provided to the ECP a complete list of 55 candidates who had filed their nomination papers to contest the national and provincial assemblies polls from 20 districts of the Punjab.

The ECP was further requested not to allow these candidates to contest the elections because they had been involved in terrorist activities due to which their names were placed on the 4th Schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

Under this 4th Schedule of Section 11-EE of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997, persons charged with terrorist activities, after being released from jail, are kept under observation and they have to inform their respective police stations before leaving their hometowns and upon their return. Such individuals are bound to provide a surety bond to the police for good behaviour and peaceful conduct.

The ECP subsequently forwarded the list of 55 sectarian offenders to the respective returning officers, with the direction to proceed against them. However, the ECP was informed that the returning officers were not legally empowered to impede these candidates from contesting the elections because the Code of Conduct issued by the ECP for the general elections lacked a particular clause to disqualify the sectarian elements.

Even though the ECP has strictly prohibited candidates from using caste, ethnicity and religion to seek votes and besides warning of a three-year jail term for any candidate found using such means in the campaign, no such proscription or jail term was recommended in the ECP’s Code of Conduct for those running their campaign on sectarian lines. Therefore, the ECP was not in a position to press the returning officers on the issue any further.

A sympathiser of religious parties said these candidates are facing only terrorism charges and no court decision has come in this regard. He said several top politicians, including a former prime minister, were allowed to contest polls on the grounds that they were just facing charges, which were not yet proved.

According to the list of the sectarian elements running for the coming elections despite being listed under the 4th schedule 40 of the 55 candidates who have been allowed to run for the polls, belong to the defunct Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) which has already been renamed as Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), led by Maulana Mohammad Ahmed Ludhianvi.

His second in command in the ASWJ is the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi fame, Malik Mohammad Ishaq, who is the vice president of the ASWJ. However, since the ASWJ did not register itself with the ECP, it has fielded candidates on Muttahida Deeni Mahaz (MDM/United Religious Front) platform.

Of the remaining 15 candidates, four belong to Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl), three each belong to Tehrik-e-Jafria Pakistan (TJP) and Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan (JI), two belong to the Jamiat Ahle Hadith (JAH) and one each belong to the defunct Harkatul Mujahideen (HuM), Majlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM) and the Sipah-e-Mohammad Pakistan (SMP).

Of the 55 candidates who are listed under the 4th schedule and are contesting the elections from Punjab, ten belong to Muzaffargarh, five each belong to Jhang, Faisalabad, and Rawalpindi districts, four each belong to Jhelum and Rajanpur districts, three each belong to the Bahawalpur and Chiniot districts, two each belong to Sheikhupura, Khanewal and Dera Ghazi Khan districts while one each belong to Lahore, Sialkot, Attock, Sargodha, Toba Tek Singh, Bhakkar, Okara, Layyah, Lodhran and Rahim Yar Khan districts of Punjab.

The following is a constituency-wise list of the sectarian elements along with the names of their organisations who have been allowed by the Election Commission to contest the coming polls: Umar Farooq of SSP/ASWJ (NA-86 Chiniot), Syed Ali Raza of TJP (NA-88 Chiniot), Intizar Hussain of SSP-ASWJ (PP-73 Chiniot), Qari Shabbir Ahmed Usmani of SSP/ASWJ (PP-75 Chiniot), Rana Mohammad Arshad of SSP/ASWJ (NA-94 Toba Tek Singh), Malik Mohammad Bashir of JI (PP-33 Sargodha), Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haqqani of SSP/ASWJ (PP-50 Bhakkar), Maulana Abdul Khaliq Rehmani of SSP/ASWJ (NA-156 and PP-213 Khanewal), Qari Rahimullah Mithu of SSP/ASWJ (PP-149 Lahore), Iftikhar Ahmed (NA-144 Okara), Hafiz Mohammad Ishfaq Gujjar of SSP/ASWJ (PP-167 Sheikhupura), Syed Raza Hasan Babar of TJP (NA-133 and PP-167 Sheikhupura), Qari Saifullah Saifi of JUI-F (NA-50 Sialkot), Khalid Mehmood Butt of SSP/ASWJ (NA-113 Sialkot), Mohammad Ishfaq Abbasi of SSP/ASWJ (PP-1 Rawalpindi), Ansar Manzoor of SSP/ASWJ (PP-1 Rawalpindi), Abdul Shakoor of JUI-F (PP-2 Rawalpindi), Zahid Iqbal Bakhtavri (NA-54), Irqar Ahmed Abbasi (PP-15 Rawalpindi), Umar Farooq of MDM (NA-59 Attock), Sikandar Hayat of JAH (PP-54 Jaranwala), Maulana Sajid Farooqi of SSP/ASWJ (PP-56 Jaranwala), Hafiz Suhail of SSP/ASWJ (PP-72 Faisalabad), Iftikhar Hussain Naqvi of TJP (PP-66 Faisalabad), Maulana Suleman Jhangvi of SSP/ASWJ (PP-70 Faisalabad), Maulana Mohammad Ahmed Ludhianvi, Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Jhangvi, Mohammad Moavia, Masroor Nawaz and Hakim Ali of SSP/ASWJ (NA-89 Faisalabad), Maulana Mohammad Asif and Ikhlaq Ahmed of SSP/ASWJ (NA-90 Jhang), Azhar Husain Kazmi of MWM (PP-82 Jhang), Malik Saeed Ahmed of SSP/ASWJ (PP78), Qari Sanaullah of SSP/ASWJ (PP-266 Layyah), Saifullah Khalid of SSP/ASWJ (NA-184), Malik Mohammad Aleem of SSP/ASWJ (PP-268 Bahawalpur), Rao Javed Iqbal of SSP/ASWJ (NA-186 and PP-269), Mohammad Ismail of SSP/ASWJ (PP-285 Rahim Yar Khan), Kazim Ali Haideri of TJP (NA-180 Muzaffargarh), Ans Bin Malik of SSP/ASWJ (NA-180 and PP-260 Muzaffargarh), Arshad Siddiqi of SSP/ASWJ (NA-176 and PP-251 Muzaffargarh), Tayyab Farooqi of SSP/ASWJ (PP-252 Muzaffargarh), Qari Taj Saqib of SSP/ASWJ (NA-177 Muzaffargarh), Ashiq Hussain Bhoot of SSP/ASWJ (PP-261 Muzaffargarh), Arshad Leghari of JI (NA-177 and PP-255 Muzaffargarh), Syed Ali Haider Zaidi of SMP (NA-178 Muzaffargarh), Sabir Hussain of SSP/ASWJ (PP-225 Muzaffargarh), Mohammad Tayab of SSP/ASWJ (PP-259 Muzaffargarh), Mohammad Anwarul Haq of SSP/ASWJ (PP-247 Rajanpur), Dr Abdul Rauf of SSP/ASWJ (PP-248 Rajanpur), Tariq Mahmood of SSP/ASWJ (PP-249 Rajanpur), and Mohammad Tahir of SSP/ASWJ (PP-250 Rajanpur).

Approached for comments, a spokesman of the Election Commission of Pakistan simply expressed his ignorance about 55 sectarian offenders having been allowed to contest the elections.

But he clarified that the scrutiny of the candidates was the job of the returning officers who represent the judiciary. “They had carried out their duties as returning officers independently and the Election Commission did not interfere with their job on how to decide the fate of the candidates who had filed their nomination forms.

The ECP only provided information, as received, from the FBR, NAB, SBP and other governmental authorities, to the returning officers”, the ECP spokesman added.


Dual Nationals – A Different View


The issue of dual nationals is making headlines again. As I noted last December, the ECP decision to bar dual nationals from contesting elections while allowing dual nationals living overseas to vote in elections back home created the bizarre outcome that people who don’t live in Pakistan and have no intention of ever living here can decide elections, but people who actually live here can’t contest elections. Based on the latest petition before the Supreme Court, though, it appears that it’s not all dual nationals that are being targeted, only certain ones.

According to the petitioner, former secretary of the Election Commission of Pakistan Kanwar Dilshad has said there are 35 parliamentarians with dual nationality. So why is the Supreme Court concerned about 4 MPs only? Is it coincidence that the only four out of 35 possible dual nationality holders being investigated by the Supreme Court are PPP members? Or is the Supreme Court preparing another bargaining chip to use against President Zardari?

It should also be noted that the petition in the case Syed Mehmood Akhtar Naqvi has a history of filing cases against PPP. He petitioned the Supreme Court against Waheeda Shah even though ECP had already taken notice of her case. He petitioned the Supreme Court to overrule the government’s elevation of Justice Gulzar Ahmed to the Supreme Court. He even petitioned the Supreme Court to disqualify every single one of PPP’s Sindh Assembly members in 2011.

But lets leave aside the obvious political games being played in the judiciary and look at the issue of dual nationality from a sober and rational perspective.

How many of our dual nationals are people who traveled overseas to take advantage of some of the world’s best universities, and after taking their degrees were accepted in positions with world class companies where they obtained top level skills and experience that they then brought back home to Pakistan?

Pakistan suffers more than any other country from what is known as ‘brain drain’ – the flight of highly skilled people to countries with more and better paying jobs. Often people are able to get these jobs by starting on a student visa, then getting a temporary work visa after their degree, and then residency or citizenship is often required. They’re not swearing allegiance to some other country, they’re just following the rules so that they can advance in their training and career. Do we really want to send the message that if you make the sacrifice of living overseas to get an education and build expertise in your field…don’t come back?

It is also important to view the issue of dual nationality in a historical perspective. For most of the past 35 years, Pakistan suffered under one military dictatorship or another. Gen. Zia especially treated his political opponents brutally and without mercy. Martial Law Regulation No 53 left an indelible stain on the nation and many families were forced to look for security abroad.

Even during brief periods of democratic rule, politics was a high stakes game that ruined lives. We should remember that before the NRO was spun into a ‘get Zardari’ campaign, it was considered as a way to deal with the fact that the judiciary had become a weapon used against opponents. Just as the Supreme Court seems interested only in 4 cases of dual nationals, it seems to have forgotten that the NRO affected not only Zardari’s case but 8,000 others.

And the dual nationality issue affects every party and political ideology also. Just because the PPP is the only party being targeted by the Supreme Court, we should remember that even Imran Khan has said that dual nationals “should be treated equally”. Actually, PTI is taking much of its funding from foreign countries and some top PTI officers such as Fauzia Kasuri are dual nationals. Does this mean that she is not loyal to Pakistan? Imran Khan himself was married in England where he lived for part of every year for almost a decade. Maybe he too is a dual national. Does anyone honestly think that he is more loyal to the UK than Pakistan? Ridiculous.

All of this points to one conclusion – compared with the serious issues facing the nation – terrorism, law and order, economy, energy – the issue of dual nationals in parliament is a non-issue. Rather than making a blanket accusation against someone’s loyalty when you don’t know the true background of their case, anyone who thinks an MP is acting against the interests of the nation should point to specific things that that person is doing. If the people who elected them determine them be untrustworthy, they can choose to replace them in the next election. In the meantime, stop wasting the government’s time with non-issues so that the elected representatives of the people can deal with real ones.

Strange outcome of ECP’s dual standard


ECP has barred dual nationality holders from contesting elections, it was reported today. ECP has also declared that it is re-considering a proposal expanding the right to vote to people who aren’t Pakistani nationals.

The strange outcome of ECP’s dual standard, obviously, will be that people who don’t live in Pakistan and have no intention of ever living here can decide elections, but people who actually live here can’t contest elections.