Khawaja Muhammad Asif, born in 1949, has remained unbeaten in all elections since his return to Pakistan in 1991 after living in the UAE for many years.
Having won elections from his hometown constituency of Sialkot on four consecutive occasions — 1993, 1997, 2002 and 2008 — he once again emerged as the victor on the NA-110 (Sialkot-I) seat in the 2013 election.
A PML-N stalwart and firebrand leader, he enjoys strong support of his Kashmiri community in Sialkot — a region where biradari has always played a pivotal role. He has also been a Senator between 1991 and 1993.
Editorial: Undiplomatic minister
After being elected in 2013, he served as the minister of water and power in the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif's cabinet. Subsequently, he was given an additional portfolio of defence minister.
Later, when Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi assumed office in 2017, Asif was appointed as the country's foreign minister.
He was appointed chairman privatisation commission with the status of a federal minister during Nawaz Sharif’s 1997-1999 government.
Asif briefly held the portfolio of federal minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources with an additional charge of sports before his party pulled out of the Pakistan Peoples Party-led coalition government in 2008.
Asif, considered close to PML-N leader Mian Nawaz Sharif, evolved differences with Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan who is known for his assertiveness within party affairs. Reports of a widening rift between Asif and former PML-N MPA-now-PTI candidate from Sialkot, Engineer Imran Ashraf, had also surfaced in March 2013 over the halting of development funds for PP-123.
The PML-N leader also faced court proceedings for allegedly having dual nationality. The charge was dropped by the Supreme Court after the accusation levelled against Asif was retracted.
In the run up to the 2013 election, objections were raised on the candidacy of the PML-N leader during scrutiny of his nomination papers. The objections alleged that Asif had failed to declare the actual worth of his assets. However, he was later cleared by the returning officer.
Asif has been a severe critic of PML-N's rival party Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and has hurled allegations of misusing charity funds and money laundering on its chief, Imran Khan. The cricket legend-turned politician in response filed a Rs10 billion law suit against the PML-N leader. Asif also dubbed PTI’s 2012 “peace march” to Waziristan a drama and was reported to have actively pursued Sardar Ghulam Abbas, a political heavyweight from Chakwal, to part ways with PTI and join PML-N.
In 2017, PTI's Usman Dar filed a petition seeking the disqualification of 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.
A three-member special bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on April 26, 2018 disqualified Asif as a member of the parliament.