Senior members of Imran Khan’s party have contested the approval of PML-N  Nawaz Sharif’s nomination papers for Lahore’s National Assembly seat in the upcoming general elections. They argue that the three-time former prime minister was disqualified for life by the top court in 2017. Imran Khan’s party has taken the matter to the appellate tribunal after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) turned down the nomination papers of Mr. Khan and 90% of key leaders from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party. Despite this, the ECP granted approval for Sharif’s candidacy in two National Assembly seats from Mansahara and Lahore.

There are allegations that returning officers, who are bureaucrats, have systematically rejected the PTI leaders’ nomination papers nationwide, purportedly under the influence of the military establishment.

On Monday, a group of PTI leaders, including former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, PTI President Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, and former federal ministers Moonis Elahi and Zartaj Gul, contested the rejection of their nomination papers in the election tribunals of the high court.

The Returning Officers have dismissed the nomination papers of over 3,500 candidates for national and provincial assembly seats.

Advocate Ishtiaq Ahmad lodged an appeal before the Lahore High Court’s appellate tribunal on Monday, challenging the candidature of Mr. Sharif due to his lifetime disqualification by the Supreme Court in 2017 during the Panama Papers case.

“The approval of Nawaz Sharif’s nomination is invalid and against the law, as the Supreme Court disqualified him for a lifetime in 2017 in the Panama Papers case,” argued Advocate Ahmad. He further stated that, based on the country’s laws, the 73-year-old leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) cannot participate in the Feb 8 polls.

Mr. Sharif is reportedly being favored by the military establishment for the position of prime minister for the fourth time.

Political observers believe that the military has effectively cleared all legal and other obstacles, paving the way for him to potentially secure the prime ministerial position for a record fourth term.

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