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No headway made in Opposition huddle over joint presidential candidate

ISLAMABAD: A huddle of opposition parties called to field joint candidate in next month’s election for the office of President remained inconclusive and decided to continue deliberations.

Former ruling party Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had called multi-party conference at Murree hill station to discuss and agree on one name for the opposition candidate for September 4 elections for the new President of the country.

“We have agreed in principle to filed joint candidate for the office of President” Ahsan Iqbal of PML-N told reporters.
He said PPP delegation has sought time to speak to its leadership while other opposition groups have given leader of Opposition in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif mandate to announce their joint candidate by tomorrow afternoon.

While, was facing questions if PML-N was ready to accept Aitzaz Ahsan, or the PPP has agreed to withdraw his name, PPP leader Qamar Zaman Qaira interrupted and said Aitzaz still continues to be PPP’s nominee.

This shows PPP is not willing to withdraw its nomination. After floating name of Aitzaz, PPP had sought PML-N’s support. A delegation of PPP met with Shahbaz Sharif in Lahore before the Eid holidays. PML-N expressed strong reservations over the nomination and for not being consulted beforehand.

PML-N information secretary Mushahidullah Khan in a media talk on Friday said Aitzaz may visit Nawaz Sharif imprisoned in Adiala jail and seek apology for purported caustic remarks against former premier and his wife in a recent interview.

In the PML-N called multi-party huddle where opposition groups were invited, PPP’s second tier leadership attended the moot which was presided over by PML-N president and leader of Opposition in NA Shehbaz Sharif. The meeting continued for more than four hours but remained inclusive.

The term of the incumbent President Mamnoon Hussain would expire on September 9.

The election of new president was due by August 8; however, it could not be held because the electoral, which is two houses of parliament and four provincial assemblies, were not complete.

Intended candidates can submit their nominations by August 27 mid-day. Chief Justices of the high courts are presiding officers for the presidential elections.

The hall of the National Assembly will be the polling station for members of the National Assembly and Senate, while members of the provincial assemblies would cast their votes in the halls of their respective assemblies whose special sessions would be called by their speakers.

The scrutiny of nominations will be conducted by the chief election commissioner on August 29. The candidates can withdraw their nominations by August 30th

The ECP has asked the proposers and seconders of the candidates to bring their official cards issued to them by the National Assembly, the Senate or a provincial assembly.

Only members of parliament and provincial assemblies can be proposer and seconder for candidates running for the office of president who should not be less than 45 years of age and should fulfill qualifications laid down in Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution.

The PTI has already nominated Dr Arif Alvi as its candidate.
Amongst the opposition groups MMA-the alliance of different religious parties, which attended PML-N called moot, is also scheduled to meet Sunday afternoon.

PTI and it’s allies have thin edge over opposition groups in the number game for the Presidential election. However, if united opposition parties can give tough time to ruling coalition.

Immediately after the July 25 election, opposition parties had gathered at official residence of former speaker National Assembly Ayaz Saddiq. They agreed to jointly contest election for the new speaker, deputy speaker and leader of House. It was decided that opposition’s candidate for speaker will be from PPP, deputy speaker from MMA and candidate for the leader of opposition from PML-N.

They jointed contested election for speaker and deputy speaker against PTI’s candidates and lost. Difference emerged when PML-N fielded Shahbaz Sharif against Imran Khan for Prime Minister’s office.
PPP and Jamat-e-Islami which is component of MMA abstained voting providing Khan whose party could hardly managed simple majority benchmark, an easy win.

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