The Supreme Court on Monday accepted disqualified foreign minister Khawaja Asif's appeal against an Islamabad High Court (IHC) decision to disqualify him for failing to declare his salary accruing from his employment in a UAE firm.
A three-member special bench of the SC, headed by Justice Umar Atta Bandial, heard Asif's appeal against his disqualification.
Asif's counsel Muneer A. Malik informed the court that the former foreign minister was disqualified on three grounds: ie, holding an Iqama, not declaring his salary in his nomination papers, and not declaring a sum of 4,700 UAE dirhams in his nomination papers.
Challenging the IHC's decision, Malik said that there had never been a transaction in a Dubai bank account which was closed on July 7, 2015.
The nomination papers for 2013 elections had only asked for three prior years of tax declarations, which was included by Asif, he argued, before adding that Asif's tax declaration from 2012 included details of the salary he received from his Iqama job.
The counsel further said that 6.82 million dirhams in foreign earnings were also declared by Asif in his nomination papers. This sum included the proceeds from the sale of a restaurant in the UAE as well as the salary from the Iqama job.
He further pointed out that money already spent does not constitute an asset and that Asif did not have expected future earnings which could have been declared.
He continued to plead that the appeal should be accepted for hearing and that Asif should be restored as an MNA.
He further said that ill intent cannot be proven in this case and that it demands further investigations.
The counsel for Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Usman Dar — who had contested against Asif in 2013 elections and was the petitioner against him in the case — argued that although Asif did mention his business, he did not declare the salary and the overall amount received through his employment.
Justice Bandial noted that the issue was also of conflict of interest, as a public office holder cannot engage in business.
The court then issued notices to both parties on the appeal against the IHC decision as well as on the petition to issue a stay order against the decision to disqualify Asif.