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Ex PM Abbasi disqualified for life; another PML-N premier down, how many more to go?


News Analysis |

The appellate election tribunal has disqualified the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader and ex. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for “concealing facts and withholding information from voters” in his nomination forms submitted for NA-57 Murree — his home constituency.

The Justice Ibad-Ur-Rehman Lodhi of the Lahore High Court (LHC) declared him not to be ‘Sadiq’ and ‘Ameen’ [truthful and trustworthy], the tribunal said Abbasi was “not a qualified person to be elected or chosen as a member of Majlis-e-Shoora (parliament) within the meaning of Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution of Pakistan.”

According to the verdict, Abbasi has been found “guilty of concealment of facts and withholding of the complete information from his voters”. While elaborating on the decision, the appellate tribunal’s judge has stated that Abbasi had declared the value of his house in Islamabad to be Rs0.3 million with a mortgage against an amount of Rs24.7 million.

The ex. PM has announced to challenge the verdict of the appellate tribunal in high court. While talking to a private TV channel. Abbasi also said that “the election is not a game. It should not be turned into a spectacle.”

 

He also noted the discrepancies in two affidavits submitted by Abbasi, one affidavit had mentioned shares in Air Blue and Blue Pines Inn Murree, “after interpolation”, while the other did not.

Read more: NAB initiates probe against Nawaz, Abbasi and Shehbaz over ‘misuse of…

Last year, the former Prime Minister of the PML-N, Nawaz Sharif was disqualified by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in Panama Papers Case. The Panama gate Joint Investigation Team (JIT), formed by the Supreme Court to investigate the Sharif family’s business dealings had found glaring disparities in the family’s known sources of income and their actual wealth which it said the Sharif family was unable to substantiate.

“Significant gap/disparity amongst the known and declared sources of income and the wealth accumulated by the Respondent No. 1, 6, 7 and 8 have been observed,” the JIT observed in its concluding remarks in the report.

Allegations against Abbasi

Petitioner Masood Ahmed Abbasi had challenged Khaqan Abbasi’s candidature and accused him of extorting money from the national exchequer. The petitioner had alleged during his tenure that, Prime Minister Abbasi had obtained “Rs1 billion from the national kitty and given the amount to his son to perform Umrah”.

While elaborating on the decision, the appellate tribunal’s judge has stated that Abbasi had declared the value of his house in Islamabad to be Rs0.3 million with a mortgage against an amount of Rs24.7 million.

Moreover, the petitioner had stated that the former premier had supported a controversial interview that Nawaz Sharif had given, accusing him of purposefully damaging national security. The petitioner was referring to the controversial, allegedly anti-Pakistan interview of the ousted PM Nawaz Sharif to daily Dawn. Nawaz accused Pakistan’s security agencies for harboring terrorists and allowing them to attack innocent people living on the other side of the border.

Read more: PM Abbasi asks for a national dialogue on civil-military relations

Among other accusations, the petitioner had alleged that Abbasi did not provide correct details of his assets. He further said that the former prime minister had not given any statement in support of Aafia Siddiqui — a Pakistani scientist imprisoned in the US on terrorism charges.
Abbasi to Challenge the Verdict
The ex. PM has announced to challenge the verdict of the appellate tribunal in high court. While talking to a private TV channel. Abbasi also said that “the election is not a game. It should not be turned into a spectacle.”

He also noted the discrepancies in two affidavits submitted by Abbasi, one affidavit had mentioned shares in Air Blue and Blue Pines Inn Murree, “after interpolation”, while the other did not.

 

“Election commission and Supreme Judicial Council should take notice of making the election controversial,” Abbasi said during the show. “I was disqualified on the issue of market value of assets,” the former premier said. This was a technical issue which could have been corrected, the ex. premier said.

Read more: Appellate Tribunal allows Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to contest polls

Abbasi explained that his father had purchased their house in 1974 and he had mentioned the same price in his nomination forms on which the property was purchased. If Abbasi remains unable to get a go-ahead signal from the High Court, there may be some serious challenge for the PML-N.

Since the PML-N is facing several obstacles at the moment ranging from cases in courts to changing loyalties of its otherwise close knit members. Abbasi’s disqualification will impact the campaign of the party since his disqualification is based upon the premise of not being honest and truthful, the same charge had clipped the wings of Nawaz Sharif.