The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has proposed that lawmakers who fail to submit details of assets to the commission within the stipulated time period be suspended from membership of the house for 60 days.
The proposal is part of the unified draft election law prepared by the ECP, but experts believe it needs to be refined because, in its present form, it sets two ‘last dates’ for the purpose.
The proposed law requires members of parliament and provincial assemblies to annually submit statements of their assets and liabilities, as well as those of their spouses and dependents. The law stipulates that the names of those who fail to do so by Oct 15 every year, be made public. Under the proposed law, the commission is also seeking powers to suspend the membership of such legislators for two months through an order to be issued on Oct 16. Any member who fails to submit the statement of assets after his suspension will remain suspended till the filing of the document. Under the draft law, the commission shall determine the veracity of each lawmaker’s statement of assets and liabilities in any manner it may deem necessary and may seek the assistance of any authority, agency or department in the federation or a province.
Meanwhile, a day after the last date prescribed by law for the submission of asset details, around 400 lawmakers, including at least four federal ministers and a minister of state as well as a number of provincial ministers, were yet to file their statements. They include Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Safron Minister retired Lt Gen Abdul Qadir Baloch, Commerce Minister Khurram Dastagir, Minister for Overseas Pakistanis Sadruddin Shah and Minister of State for Postal Services Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri. Other prominent defaulters include Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, senators Taj Haider and Israrullah Zehri, Faryal Talpur, Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Shafqat Mehmood, Arif Alvi, Asad Umar, Sardar Owais Leghari, Daniyal Aziz and Tariq Fazal Chaudhry.
Sources told Dawn that PTI chief Imran Khan submitted the statement after office hours on Tuesday, taking advantage of an ECP courtesy, as the commission continued to receive documents until midnight on the last date, i.e. Sept 30.
The MQM’s Dr Farooq Sattar and PPP’s Mian Raza Rabbani were among those who submitted their asset statements on Wednesday. In all, 776 from a total of around 1,140 lawmakers had submitted their statements of assets and liabilities by Wednesday, October 1. They include 88 senators, 270 members of the National Assembly, 197 members of the Punjab Assembly, 114 members of the Sindh Assembly, 71 members of the KP Assembly and 36 members of the Balochistan Assembly. -dawn