Returning Officers launch call for filing nomination papers, officially kicking off Pakistan electoral process

A tribesman ballot casts his vote in a polling station for the first provincial elections in Jamrud, a town of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on July 20, 2019. (AFP/File)
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Updated 20 December 2023
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Returning Officers launch call for filing nomination papers, officially kicking off Pakistan electoral process

  • Over 128.5 million voters to decide fate of 175 political parties in general elections, ECP data shows
  • 69,263,704 male and 59,322,056 female voters registered to vote in general elections scheduled for Feb. 8

ISLAMABAD: Returning Officers (ROs) on Tuesday issued a public notice for the filing of nomination papers for national and provincial assembly seats, formally kicking off the electoral process for general elections due on Feb. 8.

Over 128.5 million registered voters in Pakistan will decide the fate of 175 political and religious parties in the 2024 election, latest data from the Election Commission of Pakistan shows, with candidates fighting for 266 National Assembly (NA) seats and 593 Provincial Assembly (PA) seats.

“Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP’s) data has revealed that total registered voters in Pakistan are 128,585,760 including 69,263,704 male and 59,322,056 female, who would decide the fate of about 175 political and religious parties,” state-run APP news agency said in a wide-ranging report on the electoral schedule and process.

ELECTION SCHEDULE

According to the ECP’s election schedule for 2024, candidates can file nomination papers with respective returning officers between Dec. 20-22 while the names of all nominated candidates will be published on Dec. 23. 

Returning officers will scrutinize nomination papers between Dec. 24-30, while the last date for filing of appeals against the decision of the returning officers rejecting or accepting nomination papers would be completed on Jan. 3. The last date for deciding on appeals by an appellate tribunal will be Jan 10.

The ECP will publish the revised list of the candidates on Jan. 11 while the last date for withdrawal of candidature and publication of a revised list of candidates is Jan. 12. The polling body will allot election symbols to contesting candidates on Jan. 13 and polling will take place on Feb. 8.

“This election program would also apply to the seats reserved for women and non-Muslims in the National Assembly and provincial assemblies of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochsitan provinces,” APP said.

The last date to file a separate priority list for seats reserved for women and non-Muslims before ROs is Dec. 22.

FEES

The fee to obtain one nomination form has been fixed as Rs10, and each candidate can submit a maximum of five nomination papers with different proposers and seconders. The non-refundable fee for submission of a nomination paper for a national assembly seat is Rs30,000 while it is Rs 20,000 for a provincial assembly seat. 

The fee for a nomination paper can either be submitted directly to the RO or through a bank draft in the RO’s name to any National Bank of Pakistan’s branch, with the receipt attached with the nomination form.

Nomination papers can be obtained from respective returning officers between 8:30am to 4:30pm from Dec. 20-22. Nomination papers need to be submitted with attested copies of computerized national identity cards of the candidates and their proposers and seconders, vote certificates issued by the concerned office of the district election commissioner, candidates’ income tax returns of the last three years and passports.

ELIGIBILITY

The ECP has also issued a criterion for eligibility of contesting candidates for national and provincial assembly seats. A candidate should be a citizen of Pakistan who is at least 25 years old at the final date of filing of nomination papers . The candidate should be a registered voter in any part of Pakistan for the national assembly and of the province in which he or she is contesting for a provincial assembly seat. 

It is mandatory for candidates of women’s reserved seats of the national assembly to be registered voters of that province and fulfill eligibility criteria mentioned in Articles 62-63 of the constitution, which deal with the qualifications and disqualifications of members of parliament.

The proposers and seconders of candidates contesting on general seats should be voters of the relevant constituency while proposers and seconders of national and provincial assembly women and non-Muslim seats should to be voters of that province.

The proposers and seconders of candidates for national assembly seats of non-Muslims should be registered voters in any part of the country. The priority list issued by political parties for reserved seats needs to be attached with the nomination papers of the candidate while a special account for election expenses is required to be opened by the candidates in any scheduled bank, or details and bank statements provided of an already existing account.


Probe suggests India behind Lahore death of suspect in killing of Indian spy — Pakistan minister

Updated 2 min 2 sec ago
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Probe suggests India behind Lahore death of suspect in killing of Indian spy — Pakistan minister

  • Alleged Indian spy Sarabjit Singh died at a prison in Pakistan's Lahore city in 2013 after inmates attacked him
  • Islamabad has previously accused Indian intelligence agency of being involved in killings inside Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi said on Monday that an investigation had suggested India was behind the death of a Pakistani man, who was suspected of killing alleged Indian spy Sarabjit Singh in 2013.

Amir Tamba was shot dead inside his home in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore on Saturday. He was a suspect in the death of Sarabjit Singh, an Indian national who was convicted of spying in Pakistan and handed a death sentence in 1991.

Singh died in 2013 after inmates attacked him in a Lahore prison. His killing stoked tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbors. Tamba was accused of being involved in Singh’s death but was not convicted.

Asked about possible Indian involvement in Tamba's killing, Naqvi told reporters that India had been directly involved in a few killings inside Pakistan and police were suspecting Indian involvement in Tamba's murder too.

"Right now, the evidence is pointing to them [India]," the minister said. "It is not ideal to say anything until the investigation is completed, but [the killing] has the same pattern."

Islamabad has previously accused India’s intelligence agency of being involved in killings inside Pakistan, saying it had credible evidence linking two Indian agents to the deaths of two Pakistanis last year.

Britain's Guardian newspaper published a report this month, saying the Indian government had killed about 20 people in Pakistan since 2020 as part of a broader plan to eliminate militants residing on foreign soil. Pakistan denies harboring militants.

Last year, both the United States and Canada accused Indian agents of links to assassination plots on their soil. India dismissed the allegation of its involvement in the killing in Canada as “absurd.”

In the case involving the US, India’s foreign ministry said it had set up a high-level committee to investigate the accusations, adding that the alleged link to an Indian official was “a matter of concern” and “against government policy.”


Saudi FM due in Pakistan on official visit today — foreign office 

Updated 15 April 2024
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Saudi FM due in Pakistan on official visit today — foreign office 

  • Visit comes days after Pakistan, Saudi Arabia reaffirmed commitment to expedite $5 billion investment
  • Pakistan state media on Sunday said Saudi Arabia would invest $1 billion in Reko Diq mining project 

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan will arrive in Pakistan on Monday on a two-day visit aimed at enhancing bilateral economic cooperation between the two countries, the Pakistani foreign office said.
The Saudi foreign minister’s visit comes a week after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in Saudi Arabia and reaffirmed the Kingdom’s commitment to expedite an investment package worth $5 billion.
“The visit takes place essentially to expedite follow up on the understanding reached between Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif and HRH Mohammad bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during their recent meeting in Makkah Al Mukarramah to enhance bilateral economic cooperation,” the foreign office said in a statement. 
“This visit is aimed at lending positive impetus to enhanced bilateral cooperation and mutually rewarding economic partnership.”
The Saudi delegation comprises the foreign minister, minister of water and agriculture, minister of industry and mineral resources, deputy minister of investment, and senior officials from the Saudi energy ministry and the Saudi Fund for General Investments, according to the Pakistani foreign office.
The Saudi delegation is expected to hold meetings with the Pakistani president, the prime minister, the foreign minister and counterpart ministers, as well as the army chief and members of the apex committee of the Special Investment Facilitation Council, set up last year to oversee all foreign investments. 
The Saudi government has not yet commented on the visit or its agenda. 
Cash-strapped Pakistan desperately needs to shore up its foreign reserves and signal to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that it can continue to meet requirements for foreign financing that has been a key demand in previous bailout packages.
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy strong trade, defense and cultural ties. The Kingdom is home to over 2.7 million Pakistani expatriates and serves as the top source of remittances to the cash-strapped South Asian country.
Saudi Arabia has also often come to cash-strapped Pakistan’s aid by regularly providing it oil on deferred payment and offering direct financial support to help stabilize its economy and shore up its forex reserves.
On Sunday, Pakistani state media reported Saudi Arabia was likely to invest $1 billion in the Reko Diq copper and gold mine project in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province.


Muslim World League secretary-general meets key Pakistani religious leader, scholars in Islamabad

Updated 15 April 2024
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Muslim World League secretary-general meets key Pakistani religious leader, scholars in Islamabad

  • Dr. Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa meets Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman, head of the right-wing JUI-F party, other religious scholars
  • Dr. Al-Issa arrived in Pakistan on April 7 to promote bilateral relations between Islamabad and Riyadh, and to promote interfaith harmony 

ISLAMABAD: The secretary-general of the Muslim World League (MWL), Dr. Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa met prominent Pakistani religious leader Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman and other Pakistani religious scholars in Islamabad on Monday, Rehman’s party said, as the MWL official’s nine-day visit to the country concludes today. 

Dr. Al-Issa arrived in Islamabad on April 7 on a nine-day trip aimed at fostering interfaith harmony, strengthening bilateral ties between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. He heads the MWL, a Makkah-based non-governmental organization that represents followers of Islam around the world.

During his visit to Pakistan, Dr. Al-Issa delivered the Eid Al-Fitr sermon at the Shah Faisal Mosque in Islamabad last week in which he called on Muslims to keep Palestinians close to their hearts and in their prayers.

Rehman, who heads the right-wing Jamiat Ulama-e-Pakistan Fazl (JUI-F) party, met Dr. Al-Issa at the house of Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Pakistan, the JUI-F said in a statement. 

“We welcome Muslim World League Secretary-General Dr. Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa and his honorable delegation,” Rehman was quoted as saying by the JUI-F. 

The JUI-F leader said thousands of madrassahs or religious seminaries were being run by Pakistani scholars in the country. He added that Pakistani scholars have played a prominent role in awakening the Muslim community. 

“Pakistani scholars have a longstanding spiritual and brotherly relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Rehman was quoted as saying by the JUI-F. 

Speaking on the Gaza crisis, Rehman criticized the Jewish state for its relentless military campaign and said that the “brutality” against Palestinians cannot be ignored. 

“Zionist Israel has the patronage of international powers where human rights are being trampled and children, women and the elderly are being killed,” he said. “The Palestinian situation demands unity from us and the entire Muslim Ummah is looking toward Saudi Arabia in this regard.”

During his visit to Pakistan, Dr. Al-Issa visited the Ali bin Abi Talib Orphanage in Islamabad to spend time with the orphans there on Eid Al-Fitr. On Saturday, he attended the foundation laying ceremony of the Seerat Museum in Islamabad. The museum, the first of its kind, would exhibit relics related to the life of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). 


Pakistan Eid tourism surged by over 360 percent amid easing inflation — provincial data

Updated 15 April 2024
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Pakistan Eid tourism surged by over 360 percent amid easing inflation — provincial data

  • Inflation in Pakistan fell to 20.7 percent in March, the country’s lowest in 23 months, data showed
  • Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Galiyat area saw highest number of tourists, 237,500, from April 10-14 last week

ISLAMABAD: Eid tourism in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province surged by over 360 percent this year, with over 580,000 tourists visiting the area’s scenic spots during the five-day holidays last week, data released by the provincial tourism authority on Monday showed, as inflation eases in the economically troubled country. 

Poor weather conditions and soaring inflation led to a staggering 74 percent decline in the number of tourists that visited KP last year during the Eid holidays, as per official figures, when over 125,000 tourists visited the province. The northwestern province is home to many picturesque locations and scenic spots such as Swat Valley, Malam Jabba, Abbottabad, Kaghan, and Shogran that Pakistanis from all over the country visit during the Eid holidays. 

As per figures shared by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Integrated Tourism Development Project (KITE), a provincial initiative by the provincial government to develop tourism in KP, 583,452 tourists in total visited the province from April 10-14. 

“Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s tourist spots remained tourists’ first priority during Eid holidays,” the KP Culture and Tourism Authority said in a statement. “During the five days [April 10-14], over 583,000 tourists visited the tourist spots of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.”

According to a breakdown shared by KITE, Galiyat saw the highest number of visitors with over 237,500 visiting the area during the five days while 151,900 visited Malam Jabba. As many as 92,470 tourists visited Kumrat Valley while 77,372 toured Naran and Kaghan areas, the data showed. 

Pakistan’s inflation last year peaked at 36.4 percent during April 2023 while food inflation surged to 49.1 percent. The South Asian country’s inflation outpaced price gains even in Sri Lanka as its currency depreciated and Pakistan hiked fuel and energy prices to comply with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). 

In March 2024, however, Pakistan’s inflation rate measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) fell to 20.7 percent, its lowest in 23 months. However, the country continues to face significant financial challenges, with dwindling foreign exchange reserves and a weak national currency.


8 killed, 12 injured in three days as heavy rains batter northwestern Pakistan 

Updated 15 April 2024
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8 killed, 12 injured in three days as heavy rains batter northwestern Pakistan 

  • Four children, three men and a woman were among the eight casualties, says provincial disaster management authority 
  • In latest press release, Pakistan’s Met Office warns of floods and landslides in country’s northern areas due to heavy rain

PESHAWAR: Eight people have been killed and 12 others injured in the past three days due to rain-related incidents in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province, a report by the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) said on Sunday, as the meteorological department warned of floods and landslides in the country’s northern parts. 

Heavy rains and snowfall last week damaged hundreds of houses and bridges and shut off road and rail routes in several areas of Pakistan, especially in KP. As per the PDMA’s latest report, four children, three men and one woman were among the eight casualties while the 12 injured included four women, six men and two children. 

It said that 85 houses were affected in various districts of the province when their walls and roofs collapsed due to heavy rain. Of these, 15 houses were destroyed while 70 were damaged.

“Due to heavy rain, accidents and financial losses were reported in various districts such as upper and lower Dir, lower Chitral, Swat, Bajaur, Shangla, Mansehra, Mohmand and Malakand,” the report. 

It added that KP Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur had directed the relevant district administrations and institutions to provide immediate assistance to the affected families and instructed them to ensure the provision of best medical facilities to those injured in rain-related incidents.

The PDMA said it is in contact with the district administrations throughout the province and has instructed them to speed up relief operations. 

The Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) issued a press release on Monday warning that heavy rains could cause floods in the streams and rivers near Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, Murree, Galyat, Naran and Kaghan areas. It also warned that the showers can cause landslides in the areas surrounding River Kabul. 

Separately, over 20 people were killed last week in lightning strikes in Pakistan’s Punjab and southwestern Balochistan provinces amid heavy rains and thunderstorms in the two provinces. 

Pakistan has been prone to natural disasters and consistently ranks among one of the most adversely affected countries due to the effects of climate change.

In March, heavy rains in Pakistan’s Balochistan triggered urban floods in Gwadar and Kech districts, destroying nearly 100 homes and killing at least five people.

In 2022, torrential monsoon rains triggered the most devastating floods in Pakistan’s history, killing around 1,700 people. Over 33 million people were affected by the floodwaters — a staggering number close to the population of Canada.

Millions of homes, tens of thousands of schools as well as thousands of kilometers of roads and railways still need to be rebuilt.