8-day-old Punjab finance minister to resign today

Finance Minister Rana Asif Mehmood resign

LAHORE: Following the controversy regarding dual nationality of the Punjab Finance Minister Rana Asif Mehmood, the PML-N leadership has asked the Minister to resign and decided to allocate his portfolio to Education Minister Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman, who would present the new Punjab budget on June 9 (Saturday).    

Highly placed sources in the PML-N told Media that Rana Asif would submit his resignation very soon, most probably on Thursday (today). Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman has been assigned the responsibility of reading out the budget speech in the Assembly after giving him additional charge of the Finance Department, said the sources, who were confident that Rana Asif would resign on Thursday.When contacted, Punjab government’s spokesperson, Senator Pervaiz Rashid confirmed that Rana Asif would not present the budget for the year 2012-13.

“He has been plainly told that after surfacing of the controversy about his dual nationality, the party could not afford to keep him as Finance Minister,” he added. On the other hand, Punjab Finance Minister Rana Asif Mehmood rejected media reports about his resignation, stating there was no truth in these reports. Rana Asif, however, did not rule out the possibility of submitting resignation in the coming days while talking to Media.‘I am bound to abide by every decision made by the leadership’, he told this scribe,adding, that his party had not yet asked him to resign.

Rana Asif, the PML-N MPA from Sialkot, was sworn in as the new Finance Minister of Punjab on May 30th. He replaced Kamran Michael after the latter was elected Senator in March this year.It merits mentioning here that Punjab Finance Minister has been forced to resign following a decision by the Supreme Court on dual nationality case. The Senate membership of Rehman Malik, now Adviser to the PM on Interior, and Assembly membership of Farah Naz Ispahani has already been suspended as a result of the apex court’s verdict.

Rana is also facing a writ petition filed in the Lahore High Court seeking his disqualification for being a dual nationality holder. On the day of last hearing on May 8th, Rana Asif, through his lawyer, had confessed before Justice Ata Bandial (now LHC Chief Justice) that he was a dual nationality holder. He, had, however, sought time from the court to produce NADRA documents about his religion.

He has also been accused of grabbing Punjab Assembly seat reserved for non-Muslims despite the fact that he was a Muslim as per NADRA documents. The next date of hearing is June 13th.In this background, the Opposition in Punjab Assembly on Tuesday also asked the Speaker to suspend his Assembly membership in the light of Supreme Court verdict against Interior Minister Rehman Malik and MNA Farah Naz Ispahani.Lodging strong protest in the House the other day, the Opposition also threatened that it would not allow a ‘fraudulent and a cheat’ to present the budget in the Assembly. – Nation