News Analysis |
Khawaja Asif, the former Foreign Minister, has filed a review petition in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. He is challenging his disqualification handed out by the Islamabad High Court, a week ago. In his petition, with which Asif and his supporters have attached high hopes, the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) leader admitted that he was unable to declare his foreign bank account in the nomination papers unintentionally, though Asif has been claiming that he never concealed anything from the court.
Asif has argued that the deactivated bank account was not mentioned mistakenly, adding that the Islamabad High Court disqualified him without any evidence. The pugnacious leader of the ruling PML-N contended that the amount in the bank account was equal to merely a 0.5 percent value of his declared assets. Although Asif has been expressing that his nomination papers had everything mentioned, in his petition, he took a different stance and stated that the bank account and iqama (foreign work permit) were declared before the petition was filed against him by Usman Dar, the leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
After the disqualification verdict was announced last Thursday, Khawaja Asif has expressed that he would get justice from the apex court. However, zooming in the details regarding the case, it appears that the firebrand leader might not be getting anything substantial out of the review petition. There are many factors which imply that the review petition was a futile effort by the Sialkot-based leader.
Drawing a juxtaposition, the case of Nawaz Sharif was legally sound compared to Asif’s one as, in the former, it was not established whether any salary was received by the Pakistan Muslim League’s Supreme Leader.
Firstly, the three-member bench comprising Justice Athar Minallah, Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani has categorically stated that Asif did not qualify to contest the 2013 general elections as well. Further to this, the Islamabad High Court had bluntly remarked that iqama was not the reason for Asif’s ouster; the smoking gun for disqualification was his per month salary and employment as an occupation.
The verdict also made a reference to the Panama Papers case, in which Nawaz Sharif was disqualified, stating that the non-disclosure of receivables prompted disqualification as holding an ‘Iqama’ cannot be made the basis for attracting Article 62(1)(f). The Islamabad High Court had clubbed two clauses, Article 62(1)(f) and section 99(1)(f) of the Representation of Peoples Act 1976 (ROPA) to deem Asif ineligible for holding office.
Minutes after being disqualified, Asif contended that he never concealed iqama, however, what confirms the probable rejection of the review petition, by the top court, is the fact that he was disqualified on reasons other than holding iqama. Another factor which implies that the former foreign minister might find it fruitless to move Supreme Court is the unanimous decision by the Islamabad High Court, which led to a 3-0 vote.
Not a single judge differed with the verdict, confirming that the judicial bigwigs were convinced to show Asif the door. Moreover, Khawaja Asif’s iqama was not outdated, as he got it renewed a month before the filing of the petition by Usman Dar. Even at the time of the announcement of the verdict, Asif’s employment status was intact.
Zooming in the details regarding the case, it appears that the firebrand leader might not be getting anything substantial out of the review petition. There are many factors which imply that the review petition was a futile effort by the Sialkot-based leader.
Another point raised in the judgment was that the disclosure of employment would have led to the termination of Khawaja Asif’s contract with the International Mechanical & Electrical Co. Although Asif tried to save his seat, a week before the judgment, by submitting a letter issued by his employer stating that the services of Asif were never required for full-time work. However, to Asif’s disappointment, the document failed to protect him.
Khawaja Asif is eyeing an overturn of the IHC’s decision by the top court. However, keeping the fate of the review petitions, filed by the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in mind, it appears apparent that Khawaja Asif’s petition would be shot down as well. Drawing a juxtaposition, the case of Nawaz Sharif was legally sound compared to Asif’s one as, in the former, it was not established whether any salary was received by the Pakistan Muslim League’s Supreme Leader.
For Khawaja Asif, hopes would dash very soon because there’s no confusion over the salary as the former foreign minister did receive his salary regularly. The Supreme Court not only dismissed the review petition of Nawaz Sharif, but also hurled fresh allegations that the former premier tried to fool the court and people, both inside and outside of the Parliament, and never came up before the court with the whole truth.
Khawaja Asif’s disqualification is unlikely to be reverted, no matter how perfectly he fights his case before the Saqib Nisar-led court.