Pakistan’s ousted foreign minister Khawaja Asif on Wednesday challenged in the Supreme Court his disqualification as a member of the parliament by a high court. A three-member bench of Islamabad High Court last week disqualified Asif as a lawmaker under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution for concealing details of his UAE work permit while contesting polls in 2013. Article 62, which sets the precondition for a member of parliament to be “sadiq and ameen” (honest and righteous), is the same provision under which former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was disqualified on July 28, 2017, in the Panama Papers case.
Hours after the IHC verdict, the Election Commission of Pakistan had formally de-notified 68-year-old Asif as a member of the National Assembly, leading to his ouster as the foreign minister. In his review petition, Asif said that he unintentionally failed to disclose his foreign work permit in his nomination papers — the basis for the Islamabad High Court decision against him. Asif said it was a “mistake” to not fully declare his income which was just 0.5 per cent of declared assets. He has pleaded the apex court to overturn the verdict of the high court which resulted in his life-long disqualification. The appeal also asked that the ECP notification should be made void.
The court has so far not fixed any date for regular hearing. Asif is one of the top leaders of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and his disqualification is considered as another huge blow to the party ahead of election scheduled to be held after June. He had made the announcement to challenge the disqualification decision against him while addressing a party rally in Sialkot yesterday. He said that he hopes for justice from the apex court. “If I am not able to contest the elections then someone else will contest it in my place,” he remarked, adding that no power can stop him from serving as a political worker. Only one month is left before the government’s tenure ends, he said. He hoped that the people again vote in favour of PML-N in 2018 as well.