Khawaja Asif’s Disqualification: Trap of Politicians’ Own Making

LIKE a chain reaction, the dominos appear to be beginning to fall. After the Supreme Court’s judgements disqualifying Nawaz Sharif for life from public office on the basis of Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution, it was clear that others could be netted in the iqama and undeclared foreign earnings trap. To be sure, it is a trap of the politicians’ own making. Whether done deliberately to conceal certain facts from the voter or out of a lack of care because nomination papers have not been scrutinized carefully in the past, it is clear that foreign work, residency permits and income that elected representatives are entitled to or are drawing in foreign countries have not been fully declared by several politicians. The latest PML-N victim is Khawaja Asif, who has been doggedly pursued by a bitter constituency foe, Usman Dar of the PTI, for many years. Mr Dar’s quest to unseat arguably Sialkot’s most famous politician has finally been agreed to by the Islamabad High Court, which has declared Mr Asif ineligible for parliament. The now former foreign minister has vowed to take his appeal to the apex court, but it does not appear that the Islamabad High Court misinterpreted the test that the Supreme Court has ruled applicable.

Indeed, the PML-N and other parties should pay heed to the advice of the three-member bench. Unlike other recent judgements, the Islamabad High Court verdict has effectively lamented the judicialization of politics in the country. The bench has made clear that neither can nor should the people’s verdict, in the form of choosing their elected representatives, be easily overturned. The text of the judgement suggests a preference for politicians settling political disputes in political forums rather than rushing to the courts at the first opportunity. There are at least two things the political leadership will need to turn their attention to. First, following extensive improvements to the electoral system in the form of parliamentary legislation last December, political parties must educate their candidates about poll rules in the upcoming general election. In particular, the nomination forms to be submitted by candidates must be closely vetted. There is less room than ever for misdeclarations or forgetfulness in that area. Second, the political leadership will need to look at overhauling Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution and removing the remnants of dictators’ influence on the Constitution. The next lot of legislators should settle political disputes inside parliament. (Dawn Editorial, April 28, 2018)


Hamza Ali Abbasi @iamhamzaabbasi Apr 26
After more than 70 yrs of manipulation of institutions by both Military & Civilian rulers, i don’t blame some people for thinking “SAAZISH” when finally courts are giving verdicts on merit. Its a first in Pak that those in power are helpless before the law. Bye bye #KhawajaAsif

Matiullah Jan @Matiullahjan919 Apr 26
Those who as lawyers all their lives preferred bags of cash over cheque from clients are today issuing certificates of Sadiq & Ameen for the politicians. #KhawajaAsif

AM Shahid Latif (Retd) @AMShahidLatif Apr 26
After today’s verdict of Islamabad High Court on #KhawajaAsif, he should gracefully admit that he didn’t disclosed his Iqama before Election Commission of Pakistan. Another historic decision by the Judiciary. Justice and role of law shall prevail.

Nafisa Shah @ShahNafisa Apr 26
If the #SupremeCourt disqualified #NawazSharif on #Iqama, it was a foregone conclusion to disqualify #KhawajaAsif as it concerns the same principle. Knowing this why was Khwaja Asif, an employee in the UAE, made the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the new cabinet?

Mahrukh @Mahrukh_Irshad Apr 26
Khawaja Asif disqualfied (3-0) for life…..ouch😂😂😂😂😂😂 #KhawajaAsif

Shoaib Ahsan @ShoaibAhsanPK Apr 26
We Stand with #KhawajaAsif #StayStrongKhawajaAsif

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