Pak Election Commission releases list of nearly 18,000 candidates for Feb 8 polls

ISLAMABAD, Jan 22: Pakistan’s election commission has released the final list of nearly 18,000 candidates for the February 8 general elections.
Jailed former prime minister Imran Khan’s name is not on the list of candidates. Nomination papers for the 71-year-old former cricketer-turned-politician and a number of his party leaders were rejected by the ECP. Khan and many other leaders are in Adiala Jail at Rawalpindi, facing multiple cases.
His Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party was also deprived of its iconic cricket ‘bat’ electoral symbol, after which it fielded its candidates as independent, and each one was allotted a different symbol.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had set January 12 as the last date for the withdrawal of candidature and the publication of the revised list of candidates, but it was extended due to litigation.
The top electoral watchdog on Sunday released the final list of 17,816 contesting candidates for the National Assembly and provincial assemblies, Geo News reported
Among these, 11,785 candidates will contest the polls independently, while 6,031 will compete under the banner of their respective political parties.
Three-time former prime minister and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif will contest from National Assembly (NA) -15, Mansehra, and NA-130, Lahore, where he faces PTI leader Dr Yasmeen Rashid.
His brother and ex-prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif, is contesting from NA-123, Kasur, and NA-132, Lahore, the report said. Nawaz’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz, will compete in Lahore’s NA-119.
Former president and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari will be competing for NA-207 from his native constituency, Shaheed Benazirabad, in Sindh province and will face the PTI-backed Sher Muhammad Rind Baloch as an independent candidate.
His son and former foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari will contest from three NA constituencies, two from Sindh and one from Punjab’s NA-127.
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar has constituted a seven-member committee mandated with ensuring the smooth conduct of the February 8 general elections, already impaired by allegations of “pre-poll rigging”, according to the Dawn newspaper.
Pakistan’s independent human rights commission said earlier this month that there is little chance of free and fair parliamentary elections in the country next month because of “pre-poll rigging.” (PTI)