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PAKISTAN Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan meets party leader Jahangir Khan Tareen on Saturday. Mr Khan reached Mr Tareen’s residence directly from the Islamabad airport after he returned from his four-day visit to Sindh.—Online
PAKISTAN Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan meets party leader Jahangir Khan Tareen on Saturday. Mr Khan reached Mr Tareen’s residence directly from the Islamabad airport after he returned from his four-day visit to Sindh.—Online

ISLAMABAD: A day after the Supreme Court disqualified him from being a member of parliament, Jahangir Khan Tareen on Saturday formally submitted his resignation from the office of the party’s secretary general to Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan but the party decided to keep the post vacant till the apex court’s decision on his review petition.

In another development, the PTI constituted a five-member committee under vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi to devise the course of political and legal action in the light of the Supreme Court’s Dec 15 verdict. The decision to form the committee was made by the leadership at a meeting presided over by Mr Khan at his Banigala residence.

Other members of the committee are Asad Umar, Shafqat Mehmood, Fawad Chaudhry and Babar Awan.

The Supreme Court on Friday through a much-awaited decision on a petition by a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hanif Abbasi had absolved the PTI chief of all allegations of corruption and money laundering, but disqualified his aide and confidant Jahangir Khan Tareen, under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution — the same provision under which former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was recently declared ineligible to hold any public office.

Party decides to keep post vacant till SC decision on review petition

The three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar disqualified Mr Tareen for life after finding him to be dishonest “for the non-declaration of his London property in his nomination papers and for making untrue statement before the court that he has no beneficial interest in an offshore company”.

Moving swiftly, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) de-notified Mr Tareen as a member of the National Assembly from NA-154 (Lodhran), with immediate effect.

‘Flimsy technical ground’

“Unfortunately, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has disqualified me on an interpretation of a legal term. It is disappointing that the country’s highest tax paying parliamentarian stands disqualified on a flimsy technical ground, but since the highest court of Pakistan has concluded that I am not qualified to continue as a member of assembly I bow my head in compliance of that order,” Mr Tareen says in his resignation, a copy of which was released to the media by the party.

“I have spent all my life on principles and moral values and I feel that morally it is not justified for me to continue as secretary general of PTI,” Mr Tareen writes in his resignation.

Mr Tareen says that he “will always remain available to the PTI as a political worker in the fight against the political status quo” and towards building a “Naya Pakistan.” He has assured the party chairman that he “will always” remain his “sincere friend”.

“Your friendship and leadership is an asset……..I hope to see you as next prime minister of Pakistan,” Mr Tareen concludes in his resignation, which he submitted to the party soon after his meeting with Mr Khan.

In his resignation, Mr Tareen says that due to the efforts of the PTI, the Panama Papers case changed the course of history for Pakistan.

Earlier in the day, Mr Khan reached the residence of Mr Tareen directly from the airport upon his arrival from Karachi. The two leaders discussed the prevailing political situation and the party’s organisational matters before Mr Khan left for his Banigala residence to preside over a meeting of the senior leaders.

Mr Khan through a message on his official account on social media website Twitter paid tribute to Mr Tareen and lauded his services for the party.

“JKT (Jahangir Khan Tareen) you have shown unswerving commitment to the cause of Naya Pakistan and worked with utmost dedication for our cause. For me, it doesn’t matter whether you hold a position in the PTI or are in parliament, you will always remain right next to me as we build New Pakistan Insha Allah,” tweeted Mr Khan.

In another message, Mr Khan said that difference between Mr Tareen and Nawaz Sharif “is stark in JKT’s principled position and Nawaz Sharif holding on to the party office.”

“Also unlike Nawaz Sharif, who is guilty of corruption, money laundering, tax evasion, concealment of assets, no financial wrongdoing found against JKT” who, according to Mr Khan, had been “disqualified only on interpretation of the trust deed”.

It may be recalled that the PTI had recently opposed the government’s move to amend the Elections Act, 2017, with an aim to remove a bar on a disqualified person to hold any party office. After this amendment, the PML-N re-elected Mr Sharif as the party president, the office he had to relinquish after his disqualification in the wake of July 28 verdict of the SC in the Panama Papers case.

While opposing the bill in the parliament, the PTI members had stated that someone not Sadiq [truthful] and Ameen [honest] in the view of the apex court should not be eligible to hold party office.

PTI meeting

In the meeting presided over by Mr Khan, the PTI leaders criticised the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for its alleged failure to effectively pursue the case seeking revival of the Hudaibya Paper Mill reference against the Sharif family members before the Supreme Court. The participants alleged that the prosecutors appointed by the former NAB chairman were hand in glove with the Sharifs and, therefore, they did not pursue the matter effectively.

The party leaders welcomed the Dec 15 verdict of the SC in the disqualification case against Mr Khan and expressed their “satisfaction” over it.

The PTI leader also decided to take legal action against a particular media group and the PML-N leaders for allegedly indulging in a character assassination campaign against Mr Khan.

Published in Dawn, December 17th, 2017