SC issues notice to PM Khan in petition seeking Zulfi Bukhari's disqualification

Updated November 12, 2018

Email

Prime Minister's Special Assistant on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Zulfi Bukhari. — APP
Prime Minister's Special Assistant on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Zulfi Bukhari. — APP

The Supreme Court on Monday accepted a petition seeking the disqualification of Zulfi Bukhari, the prime minister's special assistant on overseas Pakistanis and human resource development.

Petitioners Muhammad Adil Chattha from Lahore and Mirza Abdul Moiz Baig from Karachi made Prime Minister Imran Khan a party in their petition. While fixing the case for hearing on Nov 16, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar asked what portfolio Bukhari holds.

Upon being told that he is Prime Minister Imran Khan's special assistant, the chief justice asked Bukhari's lawyer: "Tell me if an ordinary citizen can become a minister despite possessing dual nationality?"

"When a dual national cannot become a member of the assembly, one can also not become a minister," the chief justice added.

During the debate, the chief justice asked the petitioner's lawyer if he had based his application on Article 63(1)(c), which pertains to factors that may disqualify a person from being elected or chosen as, or from being, a member of Parliament.

The lawyer maintained that "a rule which cannot be circumvented directly also cannot be circumvented indirectly". According to the government's stance, he said, even Jahangir Tareen could be appointed to a position in a ministry.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan pointed out that no court has given a verdict against Bukhari as yet, while the CJP observed that there are no qualifications mentioned for a special assistant in the Constitution.

The court issued notices to PM Khan, Bukhari and the secretary of the Cabinet Division.

When Bukhari was first appointed special assistant to the PM, questions were raised by members of the opposition regarding his dual nationality.

It is also pertinent to mention that the PM's special assistant is facing an inquiry by the National Accountability Bureau for allegedly owning offshore companies in British Virgin Islands and assets beyond his known sources of income.