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IHC bench admits petition against Khawaja Asif

Updated September 27, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: A larger bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday admitted a petition for regular hearing seeking the disqualification of Foreign Affairs Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif.

The three member bench consists of justices Aamer Farooq, Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb. It heard the petition filed by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) activist Usman Dar.

The bench sought para-wise comments from Mr Asif, and adjourned the hearing for four weeks.

Larger bench seeks para-wise comments from foreign minister, adjourns hearing

During the hearing, Mr Dar’s counsel adopted before the court that being federal minister is a fulltime job, but Mr Asif was also working at a foreign company, which is against the sanctity of his oath.

He added that Mr Asif did not declare his job and salary in the nomination papers he filed to contest the NA-110 constituency. Mr Dar was defeated by Mr Asif in the aforementioned elected by a margin of over 21,000 votes.

Mr Dar has sought the disqualification of Mr Asif under articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution, alleging that the foreign minister did not declare details of his employment contract with a company based in the United Arab Emirates and concealed his salary details.

His counsel argued that Mr Asif may be unseated under the Representation of People Act (Ropa) for not being honest and sagacious.

He submitted before the court the code of conduct for ministers of other countries, according to which a minister cannot work for any other organisation after taking oath. But when asked by Justice Farooq if there is any such code of conduct for Pakistani ministers, the counsel replied in the negative.

However, he added that the minister’s oath was very clear in this regard, as it states that being in federal cabinet, a minister will not be involved in any activity which would be a conflict of interest.

The bench then adjourned the hearing of the petition for a month.

The petition claimed that Mr Asif had been employed at Mech and Elec Co. LLC (IMECL) since 2011 as a special adviser. It said he was a fulltime IMECL employee, and according to his employment contract, was paid 50,000 UAE Dirhams per month.

The petition relied upon the recent Supreme Court definition regarding receivable salary, on the basis of which it disqualified former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

It said Mr Asif was entitled to draw salary, which was his receivable asset, but he did not declare it in his nomination form for the 2013 general elections and therefore did not qualify to remain an MNA.

It claimed the petitioner had recently learned about the iqama, or work permit, and Mr Asif’s salary details, and therefore has only now moved the IHC against the minister.

The petition pointed out that the work permit was renewed on Jun 29, 2017, and was valid until June 28, 2019, which established that in spite of being a federal minister Mr Asif “intends to surreptitiously and secretly continue with his full-time employment with IMECL in violation of his oath of office under the Constitution of Pakistan”.

Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2017