Sun, Apr 07, 2013 - Page 5 News List

Pakistani candidates face oddball questions

AP, ISLAMABAD

Amir said the judge told him that an article he wrote about famous newspaper columnist Ardeshir Cowasjee after the man’s death last year ridiculed Pakistan’s ideology — a hotly debated subject in a country that has many competing storylines.

The judge did not mention what was specifically wrong with the article, which discussed Amir’s friendship with Cowasjee.

Amir wrote in the newspaper the News on Friday that the government should repeal articles 62 and 63 because they give too much power to religious leaders in the country.

Politicians have been hesitant to act for fear of appearing un-Islamic.

Ishtiaq Ahmad Khan, the secretary of Pakistan’s election commission, said the problem was that the judges are dealing with subjective issues that need to be standardized, likely by the Supreme Court.

The election commission stirred a bit of controversy itself when it forwarded a proposal to the government this week to add to the ballot the choice of “none of the above” — admittedly one that many Pakistanis might support given their low opinion of the country’s politicians.

Khan, the election commission secretary, said the organization was just following the Supreme Court’s order.

Some of the questions asked by the judges clearly seemed to fall outside the purview of determining a candidate’s eligibility according to the law, prompting the Express Tribune newspaper to say the process had taken “a turn for the weird.”

Zahid Iqbal, a candidate from the Sunni Tehreek party in the southern city of Karachi, was asked for the correct abbreviation of a bachelor of law degree and the spelling of the word graduation, said the party’s spokesman, Fahim Sheikh.

Iqbal failed on both counts, and the judge is expected to decide his fate on Friday, said Sheikh.

Former Punjab provincial lawmaker Shamshad Gohar said a judge asked her how many children she had.

“When I said I have two children, aged seven and 11, he said: ‘Your children are too young and how will you manage to look after them after becoming a lawmaker?’” said Gohar, who assured the judge she could handle it.

Perhaps the strangest question was put to Khattak in Karachi, who was asked to name the first person to step on the moon. When Khattak said it was Neil Armstrong, the judge quickly asked who next stepped on the moon.

Khattak said it was also Armstrong since he was not disabled and had use of both of his legs.

His candidacy was approved.

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