ISLAMABAD: As many as 23 lawmakers are still suspended for their failure to submit to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) statements of their assets and liabilities even after the expiry of five months following the deadline specified by the law.
Members from the Punjab Assembly top the list of lawmakers failing to meet the legal requirement, with their number standing at 12 — more than 50 per cent of such lawmakers. Out of the total 371 members of the Punjab Assembly, 359 have submitted their statements of assets.
Likewise, six members of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly have not yet filed their statements of assets and liabilities with the ECP. The total strength of the KP Assembly is 124, out of which one seat is vacant at present. Out of the 123 sitting members, so far 117 have filed their statements of assets and liabilities.
Two members each from the Sindh and Balochistan assemblies and one member of the Senate have not yet submitted their statements of assets. All the 342 members of the National Assembly have submitted their statements of assets.
Members of Punjab Assembly top the list
The amended law requires the members of parliament and provincial assemblies to submit to the ECP the statements of assets and liabilities of their own, spouses and children by Dec 31 every year.
The Section 137 (1) of the Elections Act, 2017, reads: “Every Member of an Assembly and Senate shall submit to the Commission, on or before 31st December each year, a copy of his statement of assets and liabilities including assets and liabilities of his spouse and dependent children as on the preceding thirtieth day of June on Form B.”
The law also provides for what can be called a grace period of 15 days. The Section 137 (3) of the Elections Act reads: “The Commission shall, on the sixteenth day of January, by an order suspend the membership of a Member of an assembly and Senate who fails to submit the statement of assets and liabilities by the fifteenth day of January and such Member shall cease to function till he/she files the statement of assets and liabilities.”
On Jan 16, the ECP had suspended the membership of 332 lawmakers, including federal ministers and top political leaders, for failure to submit their statements of assets.
Those suspended included 116 members of the Punjab Assembly, 72 members of the National Assembly, 54 members of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, 52 members of the Sindh Assembly, 20 members of the Senate and 19 members of the Balochistan Assembly.
The 72 suspended members of the National Assembly included Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, Minister for National Health Services Amir Mehmood Kiyani, Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi and Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri.
Other prominent MNAs on the list included Dr Amir Liaquat, Ahsan Iqbal, Khursheed Ahmad Junejo, Nauman Islam Shaikh, Nawabzada Yusuf Talpur, Muhammad Akhtar Mengal, Khial Zaman, Munir Khan Orakzai and Sajid Hussain Turi.
Prominent among the 20 suspended senators included Musadik Masood Malik, Raheela Magsi, Dr Shahzad Waseem, Islamuddin Shaikh, Rukhsana Zuberi, Quratulain Marri, Sarfaraz Ahmad Bugti and Sitara Ayaz.
The suspended members of the Sindh Assembly included former provincial information minister Sharjeel Inam Memon, Mir Nadir Ali Magsi, Hasnain Ali Mirza, Ali Hassan, Mukesh Kumar Chawla and Hari Ram.
Over 300 lawmakers filed their statements of assets after Jan 16 and were restored by the ECP through various notifications.
Published in Dawn, February 8th, 2019