The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday accepted for hearing a petition filed by members of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) challenging the appointment of Maryam Nawaz, the daughter of ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, as a PML-N vice president.
On May 3, PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif approved major changes to the party's structure, including Maryam's appointment as vice president of the party — among a list of 16 vice presidents — for the first time.
Subsequently, MNAs Farrukh Habib, Maleeka Ali Bokhari, Kanwal Shauzab and Javeria Zafar submitted a petition to the ECP challenging the move.
The petition argues that Maryam's appointment as a vice president of the PML-N is in conflict with the law and Constitution. It also covers the legal basis under which Maryam is ineligible to hold public office and includes a detailed mention of court decisions.
In a preliminary hearing of the petition today, a three-member commission headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) retired Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza set the petition for hearing on June 17 and issued a notice to the newly appointed PML-N vice president, Maryam.
The PTI counsel in the hearing argued that an accountability court had declared Maryam to be a criminal in July 2018, adding that on Sept 19 that year, the Islamabad High Court had not dismissed her sentence.
In Sept 2018, Nawaz, Maryam and her husband, Captain Mohammad Safdar, were released from Adiala jail after the IHC suspended their respective prison sentences in the Avenfield corruption reference.
The chief election commissioner pointed out that the suspension of a sentence doesn't mean that a trial court sentence has been removed.
The petitioners' counsel maintained that Maryam Nawaz cannot retain the position as vice president, and added that after the accountability court's decision, the Supreme Court had also declared that Nawaz was ineligible to hold his party position.
While speaking to media after the hearing, one of the petitioners, Maleeka Ali Bokhari, said: "It will be a denial of the democratic system of Pakistan if Maryam remains a vice president of PML-N."
"We are hopeful that we will be successful, and remove Maryam from the party position," Bukhari said, adding that this way the democratic system would be strengthened.