ISLAMABAD, Sept 5: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday rejected two identical references seeking to disqualify Tehrik-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan as member of the National Assembly.

The references were filed by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Dr Sher Afgan Niazi, accusing Imran Khan of moral misconduct.

The references’ inadmissibility was announced by Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Qazi Muhammad Farooq. He was accompanied by members of the commission Justice Naseem Sikandar of the Lahore High Court and Justice Ahmad Khan Lashari of the Balochistan High Court.

Imran Khan termed the decision a victory of justice and said the references had no legal basis and the only motive behind them was to exert pressure on him to withdraw the case he had filed against Altaf Hussain. “It was nothing but blackmail,” he said.

He said the move was clearly a reaction to his decision to fight a legal battle against MQM chief Altaf Hussain in the United Kingdom, adding that he had “concrete evidence to prove Altaf Hussain’s link to terrorist incidents in Pakistan”. He said there were 234 cases against Altaf Hussain, including those of murder and torture.

He said the basis of the reference against him was an ex parte decision of a US Court which had no legal value. “If they want to rely on ex parte judgments, what about the decision of the Canadian Supreme Court which declared the MQM a terrorist organisation.”

MQM’s parliamentary leader in the National Assembly Dr Farooq Sattar told Dawn he was shocked and disappointed by the ECP decision. He alleged that the Election Commission had made his party a scapegoat to improve its credibility ahead of the elections.

He said that the ECP decision was politically-motivated and was “not constitutional”.

Dr Farooq Sattar said his party counsel’s arguments on the maintainability of the reference were “very powerful”, but he regretted that the ECP did not consider the merits and facts of the case.

He said the legal and constitutional battle would continue.

“We have other options available. This is not the end of the world,” he said. Hinting at challenging the decision in the Supreme Court, he said the party would decide about its future plans after the detailed judgment.

The MQM leader rejected Imran Khan’s claim that the Los Angeles Court’s decision against him was ex parte. He said Mr Khan had deliberately refrained from appearing before the court and avoided a DNA test as suggested by the court.

Hamid Khan appeared as the counsel for Imran Khan while Barrister Habibur Rehman represented the MQM. Dr Sher Afgan Niazi personally pleaded his case.

The commission also took up a disqualification reference against former ruling party legislator Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan for changing political loyalty.

The hearing on the reference was adjourned because of the unavailability of the respondent’s counsel.

Opinion

Who benefits more?
Updated 03 Aug 2021

Who benefits more?

It’s been widely assumed that China was always going to secure the most benefits.
Back to the future
Updated 02 Aug 2021

Back to the future

A civil war next door would pose serious threats to Pakistan’s security and multidimensional challenges.

Editorial

03 Aug 2021

Changing GB’s status

THE government’s plans to accord a provisional provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan are progressing steadily and...
Taliban assault
03 Aug 2021

Taliban assault

Intra-Afghan peace talks should be promoted, but the global community must be ready for the imminent collapse of the Afghan state.
03 Aug 2021

Cancelling Aurat March

THE cancellation of Aurat March Faisalabad is exactly one of those ‘isolated incidents’ which, when viewed...
02 Aug 2021

Row over NCSW

SOME matters are simply too important to play politics on. Protection of women’s rights is one of them....
02 Aug 2021

Mismanaging LNG

PAKISTAN’S purchase of expensive LNG cargoes for the September-October delivery in less than three weeks after...
Against their will
Updated 02 Aug 2021

Against their will

Estimates indicate that some 1,000 girls from minority communities are forcibly converted to Islam every year in Pakistan.