News Analysis |
After much debate and controversies, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Monday moved a reference in the Supreme Court (SC) seeking the disqualification of former president and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari. According to media reports, the reference was filed by PTI’s Member of Sindh Assembly Khurram Sher Zaman and PM’s Special Assistant on Youth Affairs Usman Dar, who cited the former president, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), and National Assembly (NA) secretary as respondents.
The petitioners alleged that Zardari concealed details pertaining to ownership of an apartment in New York City, United States, in the nomination papers filed ahead of the general elections. He also failed to disclose two bulletproof vehicles, thus violating Article 62(f)(i) of the Constitution and Section 231 of the Election Act 2017, they maintained.
It is also worth mentioning that the former president has denied all the allegations and maintained that inquiries against him were politically motivated.
They alleged that both the apartment and the armored vehicles were not disclosed in Form B of the nomination papers filed by Zardari on July 6, 2018, as a candidate for NA-213. “Zardari occupies more than one office apart from co-chairing PPP, he is also president of Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) which was a violation of Article 63 (a) of the Constitution” they added.
The PTI leaders also argued that Zardari’s alleged involvement in the money laundering of billions of rupees through fictitious bank accounts is also a ground for his disqualification. This is a serious allegation which is further confirmed after the report of JIT.
It is worth mentioning here that the Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry had announced on 18th December 2018 that PTI government was going to file a disqualification reference against the former president for failing to mention an apartment that he allegedly owned in the United States in the assets declaration submitted to the ECP.
PTI filed a reference before the ECP but withdrew it after it decided to approach the apex court. The decision of withdrawing the reference invited much criticism from all sides of media that viewed the development as a hidden deal between the government and PPP. PTI always maintained that no deal shall be signed with anyone no matter what comes out at the end.
PTI, on the other hand, maintains that it has irrefutable evidence against the former president and that the court will not turn their petition down.
As a matter of fact, there is already an inquiry being conducted by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) against Mr. Zardari and his sister. Mr. Zardari is accused of money laundering during his tenure as the president of Pakistan. It is also worth mentioning that the former president has denied all the allegations and maintained that inquiries against him were politically motivated.
Experts generally believed that Mr. Zardari is likely to be disqualified by the competent authority. But former Secretary ECP Kanwar Dilshad has said on many times on the national TV after the PTI announced to approach the SC that the decision is legally incorrect. Mr. Dilshad argued that references are filed before the ECP and not before the apex court. He is of the view that the court will reject the plea.
PTI, on the other hand, maintains that it has irrefutable evidence against the former president and that the court will not turn their petition down. It also argues that the court has already disqualified MNAs for their inability to declare all of their assets. Therefore, the former president is next in the line to go home.