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SC Dismisses Khawaja Asif’s Plea to Stay Disqualification Verdict

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday refused to grant a stay on the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) disqualification verdict against former foreign minister Khawaja Asif.

The three-judge bench, headed by Justice Bandial, began hearing of the petition filed against the IHC’s disqualification of the former foreign minister.

Asif’s counsel, Muneer A Malik, requested the bench that a stay be granted on the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader’s disqualification verdict until the SC delivers its final verdict. However, the bench declined his plea and issued a notice to the respondents on the stay application.

During the hearing, Muneer A Malik informed the court that the former foreign minister was disqualified on three grounds: ie, holding an Iqama, not declaring his salary in his nomination papers, and not declaring a sum of 4,700 UAE dirhams in his nomination papers.

Challenging the IHC’s decision, Malik said that there had never been a transaction in a Dubai bank account which was closed on July 7, 2015.

The nomination papers for 2013 elections had only asked for three prior years of tax declarations, which was included by Asif, he argued, before adding that Asif’s tax declaration from 2012 included details of the salary he received from his Iqama job.

The counsel further said that 6.82 million dirhams in foreign earnings were also declared by Asif in his nomination papers. This sum included the proceeds from the sale of a restaurant in the UAE as well as the salary from the Iqama job.

He further pointed out that money already spent does not constitute an asset and that Asif did not have expected future earnings which could have been declared.

He continued to plead that the appeal should be accepted for hearing and that Asif should be restored as an MNA.

He further said that ill intent cannot be proven in this case and that it demands further investigations.

The counsel for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Usman Dar — who had contested against Asif in 2013 elections and was the petitioner against him in the case — argued that although Asif did mention his business, he did not declare the salary and the overall amount received through his employment.

Justice Bandial noted that the issue was also of conflict of interest, as a public office holder cannot engage in business.

The SC on May 4 had formed a special bench to hear Asif’s plea after the former foreign minister Khawaja Asif had challenged IHC’s decision to disqualify him in the Supreme Court on Wednesday. The bench comprises Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader was disqualified under Article 62 (1)(f) of the Constitution for non-disclosure of his employment in a UAE company and not revealing a monthly salary in his nomination paper.

The petition by PTI’s Dar stated that the former finance minister had made full disclosure in his nomination form as required under ROPA.

Published here.