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June 14, 2018

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Respect the vote: It’s now or never, says Maryam

LAHORE: PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz on Wednesday said it was high time that vote was respected, adding, "I urge all voters to come out and vote. It's now or never."

In an exclusive chat with Geo News and later talking to media persons, she remarked: “I pray to God that we are successful in our 'respect for vote' movement.” She further said that she had come out for the country, nation and 'respect for vote'. “May Allah protect the country from different diseases,” she added.

“The time has passed for those who were hatching plots to delay the elections. The nation is awake and the people are aware now,” Maryam remarked, adding that the PML-N would come into power in the Centre and Punjab after general elections.

Drawing a comparison between her father Nawaz Sharif and a ‘certain’ dictator, she remarked that the difference was being maintained between Nawaz Sharif and dictator. “The dictator has been given freedom while the prime minister elected by the nation has been humiliated,” she said and added that the script against her father Nawaz Sharif had failed.

Replying to a question, Maryam remarked that she didn’t bother to hear the verdict on Sheikh Rashid’s disqualification petition, as the whole nation was aware what the decision would be. She said she would celebrate Eid with her ailing mother Begum Kulsoom Nawaz in London.

Earlier, Maryam appeared before returning officer for the scrutiny of her nomination papers for NA-125, NA-127 and PP-173. Returning Officer Asif Bashir asked Maryam how she would plan to resolve water crisis in Punjab, to which, she replied:"Dams will be built to overcome water crisis".

The returning officer also sought her opinion about Pakistan's foreign policy with a special reference to India and Afghanistan. However, her legal counsel raised objections and remarked that the provincial assembly had nothing to do with foreign policy.

Maryam said: “The Parliament and the appointed leaders have the authority to draft foreign policy. As a citizen of Pakistan, I believe that we shouldn't have strained relations with our neighbouring countries.”

Later, she was granted exemption from appearance during the scrutiny process. Meanwhile, the returning officer for NA-125 reserved the decision regarding acceptance of her nomination papers after these were challenged by PTI’s candidate Dr Yasmin Rashid.

Yasmin ‘s counsel argued that Maryam neither qualifies to contest election as per the strict provisions of Article 62 of the Constitution of Pakistan nor the nomination papers filed by her fulfils the requirement of Law particularly Sections 60, 61 and 62 of Election Laws 2017.

The counsel raised more than 20 objections on the nomination papers and said Maryam Safdar (CNIC 25201-5827424-4) obtained National Tax Number [1308504-2] for the first time on October 12, 2001 and since then has been filing tax returns using the spellings ‘Marriyam Safdar’.

In his wealth statement for 2011-12, Nawaz spelled her name as ‘Maryam Safdar’. Strangely, in the passport, used for offshore companies, the spelling appears as ‘Mariam Safdar’ (mentioned as such in Panama Papers). The using of different names and spellings makes her a person engaged in suspicious activities. She should be asked to file copy of passport she used for opening accounts in Saudi Arabia, UK and elsewhere and for offshore companies.

The counsel further objected that a gift of Rs 129,836,905 was received by Nawaz in 2011-12 from a son living abroad and out of that Rs 371,000,000 was given as gift to Maryam Safdar and Rs 19,459,440 to Hussain Nawaz. If amount of gift was available to Maryam Safdar before purchasing agricultural land, there would have been no need for Nawaz to show the same in his wealth statement for 2011-12. It is obvious that had she declared this property in her return, she could not be in a position to justify the sources. If this was not the case then Maryam Safdar was concealed own asset in 2011-12.

The counsel for Yasmin also stated that an article, “Pakistani PM’s children raised £7m against UK flats owned offshore”, published in The Guardian, April 5, 2016, on the basis of documents obtained, it is claimed that Maryam Safdar obtained loan of 7,000,000 pounds sterling with her brother Hussain. If she was not owner of Nielson and Nescoll, two offshore companies that own Avenfield apartments in London, how she signed the loan agreement with the bank. She should be asked to provide copy of loan agreement.

On the other hand, the counsel for Maryam argued that all facts had been disclosed in the nomination papers and his client was a regular tax payer. However, the RO after hearing arguments of both parties reserved the decision about acceptance of Maryam’s nominations by June 18.

Meanwhile, Mudassar Chaudhary, a candidate from NA-131 affiliated with Pakistan Justice and Democratic Party, challenged the nomination papers of PTI Chairman Imran Khan. The nomination papers of Imran were challenged on the grounds of Sita White case after which the court sought explanation from Imran by June 14. Moreover, it is learnt that the nomination papers of PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif have been accepted.

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