ISLAMABAD: Self-exiled Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader and former finance minister Ishaq Dar has asked Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani to allow him to take oath as a senator either virtually or through the Pakistan High Commis­sion in London, where he has been residing for over four years.

The request has been made by the PML-N leader through a letter, a copy of which he has also sent to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and which was released to the media by the party’s media office here on Thursday. Mr Dar has also attached with the letter a medical report from a British neurosurgeon advising him not to travel to Pakistan due to his health condition.

“Due to my prolonged illness and ongoing medical treatment within the United Kingdom, I am unable to return to Pakistan immediately to take the requisite oath in person; my latest medical report dated January 21, 2022 of Dr Gordan Grahovac, Consultant Neurosurgeon, Harley Street, London, is annexed herewith. It is, therefore, requested that arrangements may please be made to enable me to take the required oath, virtually, through any electronic mode as you may deem convenient; the same being within the applicable legal framework and being used by the apex courts of Pakistan,” wrote Mr Dar in his two-page letter dated February 2.

He also drew the attention of the Senate chairman towards a constitutional mechanism for administration of the oath as provided in Article 255 of the Constitution, in case the oath could not be administered virtually for any reason.

Quoting the text of the article, he asked Mr Sanjrani to nominate the high commissioner of Pakistan in the UK or any other person in the high commission to administer his oath in London.

Article 255(2) of the Constitution states: “Where under the Constitution, an oath is required to be made before a specified person and, for any reason, it is impracticable for the oath to be made before that person, it may be made before such other person as may be nominated by that person.”

Ishaq Dar was elected senator on a technocrat seat from Punjab in the elections held in March 2018. He had left for the UK before the Senate elections after the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) began investigations against him in a reference for keeping assets beyond his known sources of income.

Mr Dar’s nomination to the Senate had been challenged by one of his rival candidates, but it was dismissed by a division bench of the Lahore High Court. The LHC judgement was then challenged in the Supreme Court which suspended the ECP’s notification of Mr Dar’s election as senator in May 2018.

After providing the background of his case, Mr Dar informed the Senate chairman that he could not take the oath as a senator due to the suspension order of the court and the ECP.

In December last year, he said, the Supreme Court had dismissed the petition challenging his election and as a result the ECP had on January 10 withdrawn its suspension notification and declared him as returned candidate to the Senate.

“Accordingly, I am writing this letter to convey my readiness and willingness to take the requisite oath as member of the Senate of Pakistan, at the earliest,” said Mr Dar after providing the background information to the Senate chairman.

“For the purposes of completeness and absolutely without prejudice to the above, it is hereby placed on record that the newly-inserted provision in 2021, which recently amended the act with respect to taking of oath within a stipulated time period, is not applicable to my election as member of the Senate pursuant to the Senate elections held on March 3, 2018,” the PML-N leader concluded.

It may be recalled that the government through a controversial amendment to the Elections Act 2017 has made it mandatory for the elected representatives to take oath within a stipulated time after their elections.

Published in Dawn, February 11th, 2022

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