PML-N leader Hanif Abbasi resigned as special assistant to the prime minister (SAPM) on Wednesday after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had stopped him “temporarily” from performing his duties.
In his resignation letter, Abbasi said that he would be “unable to perform at present” and requested Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to accept his resignation.
According to Dawn News, the Cabinet Division on Thursday [today] issued a notification stating that the premier has accepted Abbasi’s resignation under Schedule V-A of the Rules of Business, 1973.
Hanif Abbasi was notified as a SAPM on April 27. He was given the status of the federal minister, but no portfolio was assigned to him.
Last month, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah barred Abbasi from working as SAPM while hearing former interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed’s plea filed on the grounds of Abbasi’s conviction in the ephedrine case in 2018.
Subsequently, the IHC observed during a hearing on May 17 that a person who had been convicted could not hold public office.
Sheikh Rashid’s Petition against Hanif Abbasi
On May 6, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed filed the petition challenging Abbasi’s appointment. The Cabinet Division and Abbasi were nominated as respondents in the plea.
It stated that Abbasi was found guilty of selling 500kg of ephedrine to narcotics smugglers on July 21, 2018, and a fine of Rs1 million was imposed on the PML-N leader and a life sentence.
Rashid pointed out that on April 11, 2019, the LHC “only suspended the sentence of the Respondent No. 2 [Abbasi] and not the conviction,” adding that “the conviction stood intact for all intents and purposes.”
The petition said, “in criminal jurisprudence, there is indeed a marked difference between conviction and sentence. Conviction is finding someone guilty positively of the offense(s) charged with whereas sentence is the punishment (imprisonment or fine or both) for being guilty of that offense.”
Terming the appointment as illegal, unlawful, and unconstitutional, it requested the court to set aside Abbasi’s appointment notification as SAPM.