Court to decide fate of three PTI MNAs next month

Updated October 19, 2019

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Verdict against MNAs accused of holding ‘dual nationality’ has been reserved by IHC for over two months. — AFP/File
Verdict against MNAs accused of holding ‘dual nationality’ has been reserved by IHC for over two months. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: After keeping a verdict on petitions seeking disqualification of three lawmakers belonging to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) reserved for over two and a half months, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday allowed a few more weeks to both sides to answer some legal questions related to filing and scrutiny of their nomination papers.

Justice Aamer Farooq of the IHC had reserved a judgement on July 31 on the petitions challenging the eligibility of MNAs Maleeka Bokhari, Tashfeen Safdar and Kanwal Shauzab on the basis of allegedly holding ‘dual nationality’.

The petitions had been filed by Abdullah Khan from Islamabad and Chaudhry Mehmood Ali Hashim from Gujarat.

The court was supposed to pronounce the judgement, but since the counsel for the respondents and the petitioners were not ready to submit their replies to the legal questions raised by the judge, the court adjourned the case till Nov 15.

In March 2018, Ms Shauzab had contested the Senate election on a general seat from the federal capital and provided details of her registration as a voter. She did not win the election. The petition said that Ms Shauzab’s permanent and present addresses were in Rawalpindi and Sargodha, but she had misled the ECP about her residence and registration of vote and was, therefore, ineligible for contesting the elections for the National Assembly.

About Ms Bokhari, the prosecutor argued that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had identified her as a UK passport holder. Through an affidavit, in support of her nomination papers, dated June 19, she stated that she had renounced her British nationality and surrendered her passport, claiming that the UK Home Office had also acknowledged the renunciation of her British nationality. According to the petition, Ms Bokhari had referred to an email correspondence between herself, the first secretary justice and home affairs at the British High Commission in Islamabad and Dave Walsh at the UK Home Office “in support of the duly signed and stamped declaration of renunciation”. The petition said the emails were dated June 11, 2018, while Ms Bokhari had submitted her nomination papers a day earlier. Therefore, based on the deadline set by the ECP for nomination papers submission, she was still a dual national, it contended.

About PTI MNA Safdar, the petition said she had submitted her nomination papers on June 8 while an FIA report filed to the ECP identified her as a British passport holder. In her affidavit, Ms Safdar said she had “not ceased to be a citizen of Pakistan nor had acquired or applied for the citizenship of a foreign state”.

Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2019