ISLAMABAD: Following Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s confession that he had obtained Iqama (work permit) of the United Arab Emirates, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif was also found to be a holder of such permit of the Gulf state.

The defence minister claimed on Tuesday that he had submitted details of his Iqama to the Election Commission of Pakistan and the Federal Board of Revenue about 27 years ago. “My Iqama is with the ECP and the FBR for the last 27 years,” the minister said in a statement reported by Geo TV.

Khawaja Asif, who also holds the portfolio of Minister for Water and Power, was replying to allegations levelled by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) that he had not declared his UAE work permit before the ECP and FBR and that keeping Iqama of a Gulf state while holding a public office was a “clash of interests”.

The minister disclosed that he had also been holding an account in a Dubai-based bank since 1983 and even today he was receiving money in Pakistan through the same banking channel.

The PTI’s deputy secretary general, Usman Dar, alleged that Khawaja Asif had not declared his Iqama before the ECP and FBR and said he would also expose corruption and corrupt practices of the minister.

In a statement, the PTI leader said Khawaja Asif, while serving as defence minister of the country, held work permit of a private firm in Dubai. “Khawaja Asif has never declared his income from the offshore company,” he claimed.

Mr Dar said the PTI had started consultation with its legal team for preparing a case for disqualification of Khawaja Asif who, according to some media reports, can be a possible candidate for the office of the prime minister if Nawaz Sharif steps down.

“We will also send Sialkoti yes-man of the prime minister home under Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution. Possible candidate of prime minister’s office has been found more corrupt than the incumbent prime minister,” he said.

Prime Minister Sharif is also facing the charge of possessing the UAE Iqama, but he has not declared it before the ECP and FBR. However, his lawyer Khawaja Haris submitted an application to the Supreme Court on Saturday claiming that the prime minister had declared his Iqama at appropriate forums.

Usman Dar claimed that the defence minister had obtained Iqama from the firm which had been awarded contracts by the PML-N government. “Holding Iqama of any foreign country is a way of escape,” he said.

Published in Dawn, July 26th, 2017

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