Monday Aug 27 2018

Fazl meets Zardari for opposition's consensus presidential candidate

ISLAMABAD: Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Monday called on Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari in an attempt to bring a consensus presidential candidate by the opposition parties.

Sources disclosed that the JUI-F leader requested Zardari to withdraw  PPP candidate Senator Aitzaz Ahsan from the presidential election. Fazl also told the former president that except the PPP, all opposition parties were supporting his candidacy for the office of the country's president.

The JUI-F leader said that he made all his efforts to garner support for Senator Ahsan's nomination from the opposition parties, but to no avail. 

PPP leaders Khursheed Shah and Farhatullah Babar were also present in the meeting, while Fazl was accompanied with Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri and Akram Durrani, the sources informed. 

Later, while speaking to the press, PPP leader Farhatullah Babar said that the party's final decision on the presidential contest will be taken on Tuesday (tomorrow).

"We have listened to Maulana Fazlur Rehman's views. We have a high-level huddle tomorrow. The party will hold consultation on his request," Babar said. "Zardari told Rehman that he is not in a position to support him."

Fazl, earlier in a press conference, urged the PPP to review its decision of fielding Senator Ahsan as the presidential candidate.

He said that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) objected to Ahsan's candidacy. Fazl said that everyone was agreed on his nomination for the office.

Nomination papers submitted

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's Dr Arif Alvi, Pakistan Peoples Party's (PPP) Aitzaz Ahsan and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rahman, who has been fielded by the grand alliance of opposition parties, submitted their nomination papers for the presidential election on Monday.

Earlier today, opposition parties except PPP decided to field the JUI-F chief for the post of the country's president as the deadlock persisted over the nomination of Ahsan for the post.

The three presidential candidates submitted their nomination papers in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) as the deadline ended at noon.

PTI's presidential candidate also submitted his nomination papers in the Sindh High Court (SHC).

In the IHC, the PTI submitted four forms for those who proposed and seconded Alvi. Shibli Faraz, Sadaqat Abbasi, Farrukh Habib and Anwar-ul-Haq are among those who proposed and seconded the PTI candidate for president. Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Qasim Khan Suri, Maleeka Bukhari and Amir Dogar's forms were also filed. 

Dr Khurram Sher Zaman and other PTI leaders submitted Alvi's nomination papers in the SHC.

Senior PPP leaders, including Sherry Rehman, Naveed Qamar, Qamar Zaman Kaira and Khursheed Shah, accompanied Ahsan to the IHC to submit his papers for the presidency.

Ahsan has been proposed by Shah and seconded by Rehman.

Meanwhile, Maulana Fazl, who has been fielded by the PML-N, Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), Awami National Party, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party and National Party, submitted his nomination papers in the IHC through his counsel. PML-N leader Ameer Muqam is Fazl's covering candidate.

The grand alliance of opposition parties met in Murree on Saturday to reach a consensus on a joint candidate for president. However, PPP rejected Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s objections over Ahsan and decided to stick to its choice of candidate for the post.

Further, a meeting of leaders of both parties, held in the Parliament lodges late Sunday evening, remained inconclusive.

The chief election commissioner will conduct scrutiny of the nomination papers in Islamabad on Wednesday at 10am.

Candidates will have until Thursday, August 30 to withdraw their nomination papers, after which the final list will be made public on the same day.

Polling for the presidential election will be held on September 4.

The president is elected by an electoral college comprising members of the Senate, National Assembly, and the four provincial assemblies. Voting is held through a secret ballot.

Questions remain over Fazl's character: Zardari 

Earlier, the rift between opposition parties widened over candidates for the presidential election as PPP co-chairman Asif Zardari remained adamant that Ahsan is the party's nominee.

Responding to the opposition's criticism of PPP for their failure to nominate a joint candidate for the upcoming presidential election, Zardari said, "We have questions over Maulana Fazl's character."

"Ahsan is the PPP's candidate for president and we will contact all parties, including PTI, to support him," he added.

Democracy to suffer if opposition remains divided: Mushahidullah 

Further, PML-N leader Mushahidullah Khan regretted that democracy will suffer is opposition remains divided.

"All opposition parties except PPP have a democratic attitude," he said.

"We are telling PPP even now to suggest three names for the country's president," he added.

Further, the PML-N leader stated that PPP's nominee Ahsan "did not care about Nawaz or his daughter, Maryam, and even termed Kulsoom Nawaz's illness as fake".

"It's not Nawaz's level to talk about Ahsan," he said.

Opposition lambasts PPP for failure to field joint presidential candidate

Members of opposition parties lambasted PPP for their failure to nominate a joint candidate for the upcoming presidential election.

Addressing a joint press conference, PML-N leader and former interior minister Ahsan Iqbal criticised the PPP for failing to end the deadlock and expressed hope that the party will review its decision and prevent the opposition’s vote from splitting.

Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) leader Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri thanked the opposition alliance for nominating Maulana Fazl for the post, while regretting the PPP’s lack of support to the opposition’s cause.

Haideri further said that as per the opposition’s calculations, Fazl looked in a position to win the presidential polls.

Terming the PPP’s decision as “shocking”, National Party leader Hasil Khan Bizenjo lamented the failure of the grand alliance to put up a strong front on the matter.

“The way PPP backed out was shocking,” he said. “All the parties had asked PPP to propose another name.”

It was not possible for PML-N to vote for Aitzaz Ahsan, Bizenjo added. 

PTI to benefit from opposition fielding two candidates: Ahsan

Speaking to the media after submitting his nomination papers in the IHC, the PPP presidential candidate said that if the opposition remained divided and fielded two candidates for the post of the country’s president then the ruling PTI would benefit.

“PPP consulted other opposition parties before fielding my name for the post,” Ahsan said.

“I was not present for the party meeting in which it was decided to field my name for presidential candidate,” he added.

Responding to PML-N leader Pervaiz Rashid’s reservations over fielding Ahsan, the PPP leader said, “PML-N leaders clarified that this is Rashid’s personal opinion and not party policy.”

“I respect Rashid but felt his demand was unnecessary,” he added.

Earlier on Friday, the PML-N leader had said the party would only consider supporting Ahsan in the presidential election if he visited Adiala jail and apologised to incarcerated former premier Nawaz Sharif.