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'Corruption charges' Raja Pervez Ashraf out of election race

16 April, 2013

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ISLAMABAD: An election tribunal on Monday disqualified former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf from contesting next month's general elections over graft allegations, an official said.

Raja, a candidate for the outgoing governing Pakistan People's Party, was last week prevented by an election official from standing from NA-51 in his native Gojar Khan district in central Punjab after his opponent accused him of corruption. Raja filed an appeal, but both high court judges on the election tribunal on Monday rejected his appeal and disqualified him from standing. "The election tribunal has rejected his appeal which means he cannot contest elections," election official Zahur Ahmed Pasha told AFP.

Sardar Latif Khosa, a party leader from Punjab, said Raja would file an appeal in a higher court. Raja was sworn in as prime minister last June after the Supreme Court sacked his predecessor for contempt over his refusal to ask Switzerland to reopen corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari on the grounds that he has immunity as head of state.

The tribunal, comprising Justice Rauf Ahmad Sheikh and Justice Mamoon Rashid of the Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi Bench, upheld objections which were raised on the nomination papers of the former prime minister by a constituent, Raja Irfan Aziz, during the recent scrutiny. The complainant had accused Raja of misusing his discretionary powers to allocate development funds in his constituency against the rules, while he was in the office.

With the rejection of his papers by the tribunal, Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) secretary general is out of the electoral race, as he had put up his candidature only in one constituency. Former law minister Farooq H Naek has said the tribunal's decision would be challenged in the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, an election tribunal consisting of Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Munir Ahmed has rejected former military ruler Pervez Musharraf's appeal against the rejection of his nomination papers from NA-250 Karachi. Musharraf's nomination papers for the constituency were rejected on the charges of violating the constitution and sacking top judges. The tribunal, upholding the decision of the returning officer, declared Musharraf ineligible for participating in the May 11 election.

Another election tribunal of the LHC, comprising Justice Nasir Saeed Sheikh and Justice Shahid Waheed, on Monday dismissed appeals against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz Sharif, and allowed them to contest elections for the National and Punjab assemblies, respectively. Eight appeals were filed against the candidature of Nawaz Sharif from NA-120 and NA-119 Lahore, and five against Shahbaz Sharif from NA-128 and PP-161 Lahore.

Afshan Ameerudin, the sister of late Arif Ameer alias Tipu Truckanwala, and other applicants had accused the Sharif brothers of concealing their assets at the time of filing nomination papers. They also sought disqualification of both the PML-N leaders in light of Supreme Court's judgement in the Asghar Khan's case. The counsel for the applicants claimed that it had been established that both the headers had received money from secret agencies to manoeuvre the general election in 1990.

Meanwhile, the election tribunal in Multan accepted former MNA Jamshed Dasti's nomination papers for NA-177 and NA-178 constituencies in Muzaffargarh on Monday.

End.

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