The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday disqualified Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif under Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution for holding an Iqama (work permit) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The three-member special bench, announcing the verdict, stated that Asif was not even qualified to contest polls in 2013.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) supporters started chanting slogans of “Go Nawaz Go” outside the court after the announcement of the verdict.
On April 10, a larger bench of the high court had reserved judgment on a petition by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Usman Dar. The larger bench, comprising Justice Athar Minallah, Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, had directed the parties to submit written arguments.
The petitioner, Usman Dar, who had contested against Asif during 2013 general elections in the NA-110 constituency from PTI’s platform, had argued that Asif hid the fact of holding an Iqama, or a foreign work permit, in his nomination papers. Dar, through his counsel Sikandar Bashir Mohmand, nominated Asif, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the National Assembly secretary as respondents and sought relief under Article 199(1)9b)(ii) read with Article 63(1)(f).
Earlier, Mohmand had argued before another larger bench that Asif in his nomination papers mentioned himself as a businessman whereas his Abu Dhabi Iqama proved that he was and still is an employee of a company in a different capacity.
The prosecution counsel’s claimed that the foreign minister was not entitled to holding the office of an MNA or that of a federal minister under the ‘Unlimited Term Employment Contract’ between him and the International Mechanical and Electrical Company (IMECL) – a limited liability company located in Abu Dhabi and existing under UAE laws.
He said Asif “has been continuously employed as a full time, salaried employee of IMECL since at least 2-7-2011” and held various positions, including that of ‘legal adviser’ and ‘special adviser’. The counsel had also said Asif was to receive a monthly basic salary of AED35,000 along with a monthly allowance of AED15,000, making an aggregate payment of AED50,000 per month.
In his reply earlier submitted before the previous larger bench, Asif said the petitioner had relied upon the documents appended by him along with his nomination papers prior to the 2013 elections.
The counsel for Asif had said Dar was trying to achieve his mala fide objectives and seeking re-adjudication of the election dispute indirectly by filing the present petition which is contrary to the principle of law that says “what cannot be achieved directly cannot be achieved indirectly”.
In his reply, Asif said had admitted being employed as a legal advisor as stated in the employment form, however, he stressed that the business relationship between the company and the respondent was in accordance with the law and did not relate to the national security or any matter which may be in conflict with the official functions being carried out by the respondent being the foreign minister.
He had further said there was no reason for the petitioner to object to the working relationship of Asif with the company in the UAE without showing a violation of any express provision of law. He added that remuneration fee received by Asif had been duly declared in his nomination form for the election held in May 2013.
Asif’s counsel had stated that the payment of AED35,000 plus AED15,000 allowances pertain to the year 2015 onward and could not be mentioned in the nomination form of 2013. He reiterated that payments made were duly accounted-for in the income tax returns and the law of the land was being followed.
Asif’s counsel averred that assertion being peddled by Dar that Asif was a full-time employee of IMECL is based on a misconception of facts.