ISLAMABAD - Chief Election Commissioner Justice (r) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim on Friday accepted nomination papers of Mamnoon Hussain, Wajih-ud-Din Ahmed and Iqbal Zafar Jhagra for the presidential election and rejected the nominations of the remaining 21 candidates.

In a strong and categorical expression of protest against the Supreme Court’s Wednesday decision, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) boycotted the presidential poll, which led to the rejection of its candidates’ nomination papers. PML-N’s Mamnoon Hussain, his co-party leader Iqbal Zafar Jhagra and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's Justice (r) Wajih-ud-Din Ahmed are the three candidates in run for the presidential poll. With the planned withdrawal of papers by Jhagra today (Saturday), Hussain and Din would be the two candidates battling for the presidential slot.

In his capacity as the returning officer for the presidential poll, the CEC reviewed the nomination papers of 24 candidates. The nomination papers of 20 candidates did not meet the constitutionally prescribed criteria while PPP’s Senator Raza Rabbani did not show up at the ECP following his party’s decision to boycott the election against the Supreme Court’s order on holding the presidential poll on July 30.

The CEC had extended the scrutiny time for two hours (3pm to 5pm), hoping that Rabbani could appear before the commission in connection with his nomination papers’ scrutiny, but this did not happen. The other 20 candidates had provided either wrong details in the nominations about their proposers and seconders or had not provided any such details at all.

In his nomination papers, Imran Ahmed advocate, a presidential candidate from Lahore, had provided a fake name of one Abdur Rauf Balli as an MPA from PP-41 to be his proposer and another fake name of Ubaidullah as an MNA from NA-71 to be his seconder. PTI Chairman Imran Khan had won from NA-71, Mianwali, and had vacated the seat where by-election is scheduled on August 22 while PML-N’s Muhammad Asif Malik is an MPA from PP-41, Khushab.

Another candidate from Karachi, Shakil Ahmed Khan, had mentioned “PM Nawaz Sharif’ as proposer and “President Zardari” as seconder in his nomination papers.

Though PPP’s Raza Rabbani had the highest number of seven nominations (comprising respective proposers and seconders), the party has stepped out of the poll race, alleging the SC has deprived its candidate of sufficient time to run presidential election campaign. Apart from PPP, PTI is another mainstream opposition party to have severely criticised the Supreme Court for turning down the ECP decision to hold presidential election on August 6 and ordering a revised election schedule.

The SC had taken up the petition of PML-N’s Raja Zafar-ul-Haq, demanding the conduct of presidential election on July 30, and had decided in favour of the petitioner the same day without serving notices to the parties concerned which caused resentment from the opposition parties. Haq had cited the expected unavailability of numerous legislators during the presidential election out of their religious commitments in the last days of Ramazan to request the court for revising the presidential election date.

In consequence of the SC ruling, the date for withdrawal of candidature/final list of candidates was revised from July 29 to July 27.

As many as 24 nomination papers for presidential poll were filed on Wednesday. Nine candidates filed 12 nomination papers at the registrar’s office, Islamabad High Court, seven candidates each filed their nominations at the registrars' offices of Lahore and Sindh High Courts while one candidate filed his papers at the Peshawar High Court’s registrar office. No candidate filed papers at Balochistan High Court (Quetta) for the presidential poll.

The notable presidential election candidates are Mamnoon Hussain (three nominations), Raza Rabbani (seven nominations), Iqbal Zafar Jhagra (two nominations) and Justice (r) Wajih-ud-Din Ahmed (one nomination).

The Section 3 (2) of the Presidential Rules 1988 provides that every nomination paper shall be accompanied by an attested copy of the extract from the electoral roll in which the person nominated is enrolled as a voter and attested copies of the identity cards of the proposer and the seconder issued by the Senate Secretariat, National Assembly Secretariat and the provincial assemblies’ secretariats.