Pakistan

Supreme Court nullifies Khawaja Asif’s lifetime disqualification by IHC

The Supreme Court nullified on Friday the lifetime disqualification of the former foreign minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif.
A three-member bench headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial announced the verdict. Khawaja Asif is now eligible to contest in upcoming elections, which are scheduled to be held on July 25.
The bench, which also comprises Justices Faisal Arab and Sajjad Ali Shah, had earlier reserved its decision on the appeal filed by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz stalwart challenging his April 27 lifetime disqualification by the Islamabad High Court (IHC). Asif had filed the appeal on May 2.
Earlier, Advocate Sikander Bashir Mohmand, representing Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Mohammad Usman Dar, remarked that a record of Asif’s stint in the federal cabinet has been submitted to the court.
“Asif’s oath should be reviewed,” the legal counsel said, adding that Asif had taken the oath to never think about his personal benefit.
“He was working as an employee in a foreign country while serving as a minister in Pakistan,” Advocate Mohmand added.
Khawaja Asif’s legal counsel had argued that he did not mention foreign accounts on nomination papers unintentionally.
He also said that he had declared his bank accounts details and iqama (work permit) before the writ was submitted by Usman Dar.
‘Unfair to destroy anyone’s career’
During the hearing on Thursday, the Supreme Court had observed that it would unfair to destroy the career of a parliamentarian because he failed to quantify his assets, though he disclosed their source under the relevant law.
Justice Umer Ata Bandial, while heading the bench, had observed that disclosing foreign salary by the petitioner (Khawaja Asif) is sufficient, adding that it was not fair to destroy anyone’s career.
The court questioned as to whether Khawaja Asif had disclosed in his nomination papers, a salary of AED9000. Sikandar Bashir Mohmand, counsel for Usman Dar, responded that he did mention AED9000 but mentioned zero in next box of the nomination paper
Justice Umer Ata Bandial observed that it would be examined as to whether facts were mentioned in the nomination papers or not.
The court, however, observed that it would not go into the tax returns as it is the job of tax authorities to impose a penalty on it.
Justice Umer Ata Bandial remarked that the issue before the court pertained to disqualification under Article 62(1)(f).
Asif’s disqualification
On April 27, Asif was disqualified by the IHC under Article 62 (1)(f) of the Constitution for failing to disclose his employment in a UAE company and the monthly salary he was receiving.
The court announced its verdict on a petition stating that Asif did not mention his foreign employment in his nomination papers.
A three-member bench headed by Justice Athar Minallah had announced the verdict and ruled that Asif is not ‘honest’ and ‘truthful’ as per the Constitution.
The three bench members unanimously ruled that Asif was not qualified to contest the 2013 general election from NA-110 as he did not fulfill the conditions described under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution, read with Section 99(1)(f) of the Representation of People Act 1976.