ISLAMABAD: Rejecting the plea that PTI chairman Imran Khan is no longer a lawmaker so the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) cannot issue notices to him, the ECP on Thursday adjourned till Aug 22 the hearing of a reference involving the alleged sale of gifts received from foreign dignitaries by the former premier.
The argument was advanced by Barrister Gohar Ali Khan while appearing before a five-member ECP bench headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja hearing the case.
Advocate Gohar, who also sought an adjournment saying the main counsel Barrister Ali Zafar was unable to attend due to other engagements, recalled that PTI MNAs had resigned en masse before Shehbaz Sharif was elected as the prime minister.
The CEC, however, said Imran Khan continued to be an MNA in the eyes of the law. He said the National Assembly Secretariat was yet to accept Khan’s resignation and send it to the ECP. Stressing that constitutional matters should not be twisted to make them suitable for someone, the CEC said an MNA couldn’t be de-notified until the speaker accepted the resignation and sent it to the ECP.
“Show us which resignation the (former) deputy speaker sent to us,” the CEC remarked, referring to the resignations of PTI MNAs submitted to former NA deputy speaker Qasim Suri, adding the resignations that did get sent to the ECP were processed and the MNAs were subsequently de-notified.
The commission also directed the petitioners in the disqualification reference against former prime minister Khan to provide its copies and other relevant documents to the PTI lawyer, before adjourning the hearing till next week.
Talking to reporters after the hearing, PML-N MNA Mohsin Shahnawaz Ranjha, who filed the reference also carrying signatures of other allied party MNAs against Mr Khan for concealing details of the Toshakhana gifts and proceeds from their alleged sale, said it was time to apply former chief justice Saqib Nisar’s 2018 ruling that disqualification handed down under Article 62(1)(f) was for life.
Highlighting the allegations levelled in the reference, Mr Ranjha accused Mr Khan of getting Toshakhana gifts evaluated by his “friends” so they were undervalued and sold out. “He also did not declare those assets,” he alleged.
The MNA also alleged that Imran pressured the Toshakhana staff into declaring the value of the gifts lower than their actual cost. He also challenged Imran to file a defamation suit against him if the allegations were untrue.
In their reference, the ruling alliance MNAs included documentary evidence to corroborate their claims against the former PM and sought his disqualification under sections 2 and 3 of Article 63 of the Constitution, read with Article 62(1)(f).
Meanwhile, the ECP on Thursday reserved its verdict in the case involving attempts to remove PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain from his party position.
Appearing before a five-member ECP bench, headed by the CEC, Advocate Umar Aslam, counsel for Chaudhry Shujaat, argued that only the Central Working Committee of the party was authorised to take disciplinary action against any office-bearer.
Shujaat had approached the ECP after a faction of the PML-Q, led by his cousin Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, held a party meeting in Lahore and dismissed both Shujaat and PML-Q federal minister Tariq Bashir Cheema from their posts in the party. The group had also announced the intra-party elections.
Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2022