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ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday accepted for preliminary hearing a petition seeking disqualification of co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Asif Ali Zardari as member of the National Assembly.

The decision was taken in principle by Chief Election Commissioner retired Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza and other ECP members concurred with his view.

Sources said Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) lawmaker Khurram Sherzaman, who filed the petition with the provincial election commissioner, Sindh, would be sent a notice for the preliminary hearing expected next week to give reasons why the commission should hear it.

PTI lawmaker in his petition accuses PPP leader of not declaring assets in his nomination papers

The sources said the commission had completed its file work and the matter had been referred to the ECP secretariat which was most likely to issue a notice to the petitioner on Friday.

The petitioner has accused Mr Zardari of concealing his assets and asked the ECP to disqualify him as an MNA under Article 62 (1)(f) of the Constitution.

Last week, PTI members of the Sindh Assembly led by Khurram Sherzaman had filed the application accusing Mr Zardari of owning an apartment in Belaire Condominiums located at 524 East 72nd Street, New York, but not declaring it in his nomination papers for the 2018 general elections.

“Because of this act of his, Zardari under the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and Rules of the Election Commission of Pakistan, as per past precedent, should be disqualified from holding public office under Article 62 (1)(f), as in my opinion he ceases to be truthful and sagacious,” reads the application.

Mr Sherzaman showed the copy of his letter carrying “documentary evidence” and said that one of the documents “proved” that Asif Zardari owned the New York property. Another piece of evidence, he claimed, showed that one Mehreen Shah was granted the power of attorney for the condo unit by Asif Zardari.

Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Zaidi has also shared on social media copies of tax bills purportedly issued in Asif Zardari’s name for his property in New York.

“Just for clarity’s sake... attached are the latest property tax bills of 524 East 72nd Street, Apt 37F, NY, NY 10021,” the federal minister tweeted with the copies of “property tax bill” purportedly issued by the New York department of finance. He claimed: “Bills are all in the name of Asif Ali Zardari.”

The copies clearly showed the name of Asif Zardari and the bill was issued in November 2018 seeking payment of $4,947 as property tax.

Published in Dawn, December 28th, 2018