Kulsoom Nawaz might not contest NA-120 bye elections on ‘lion’ symbol

  • After disqualification of Nawaz Sharif, PML-N was a headless party and so election symbol could not be alloted to it: ECP
  • The Commission had issued notification to the party asking for election of a new party head

LAHORE – The wife of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif might not be able to contest upcoming elections in NA-120 on the symbol of ‘lion’ despite representing Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz.

It might sound silly as to why Kulsoom Nawaz would not be able to use the election symbol of the party that nominated it as its candidate but a legal formality bars usage of ‘lion’ symbol after the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif as prime minister.

According to the rules set forth by the Election Commission of Pakistan, the electoral symbol could not be assigned to a candidate affiliated with a ‘headless’ party.

With the decision of a five member bench of the supreme court in Panama case, Nawaz Sharif was disqualified not only as a member of the parliament but also as head of the party as he could not retain any office of his own Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz.

So, with the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif, ruling Pakistan Muslim league Nawaz is technically a party with no head and as per ECP rules, its symbol cannot be assigned to any candidate, reported Pakistan Today.

The commission had also issued a notice to the PML-N for the appointment of a new party head soon after the verdict of the top court.

The ECP in its notice stated that under the Political Parties Order 2002, a disqualified lawmaker cannot hold office in a political party.

The notification also referred to the Supreme Court order and observed that Article 15 of the PML-N’s own party constitution binds appointment of a party president within a period of one week.

On the other hand, the embattled ruling party, currently on roads to muster public support, announced that it would nominate Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif as president though no official notification has been issued in this regard.

The inference that Kulsoom Nawaz might not be able to get her party’s symbol was confirmed by Director (Legal) in the provincial election commission, Umar Hayat who maintained that ECP will not assign the symbol to any candidate of PML-N.

‘The ECP has issued a notice to the PML-N to elect new party head which the party has failed to do so till now. When a candidate files nomination papers, he/she has to submit them with signatures of party chief in letter head’ he said in a conversation with the leading daily.

He further added that if any candidate files nomination papers without bringing a letter signed by the party head, they will not be given an election symbol.

‘The rules are clear in this regard and the ECP has already done its job by informing the party,’ added Umar Hayat.

Hayat ruled out the possibility of the Kulsoom’s papers being rejected on the basis of failure to elect a party head.

‘They will, however, he/she will be considered an independent candidate and allotted symbol accordingly,’ he said.

It bears mentioning that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has fielded Dr Yasmeen Rashid as its candidate for the constituency vacated after the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif.

Contrary to the popular belief that Punjab’s Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif would contest the elections, Kulsoom Nawaz submitted her nomination papers on Friday.

A cut-throat battle is expected between the two candidates on September 17.

Political observers are of the view that Kulsoom being naive in electoral politics might face some difficulty, however, as the constituency is a stronghold of ruling party, she could make it to the Lower House of the Parliament.

Yasim Rashid, a doctor by profession contested General Elections in 2013 from the same seat against Nawaz Sharif bagging 52,354 votes in contrast to 91, 683 votes of former.