Pakistan’s Foreign Minister disqualified by high court for holding UAE work permit

Vastavam web: Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif was today disqualified from holding public office for life by the high court here for concealing details of his UAE work permit while contesting polls in 2013, in another major blow to the ruling PML-N party ahead of the general elections.In an unanimous verdict, a three-member special bench of the Islamabad High Court ruled that Asif was not “truthful” and “honest” and disqualified him under Article 62 (1) (f) of the Constitution.Article 62, which sets the precondition for a member of parliament to be “sadiq and ameen” (honest and righteous), is the same provision under which former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was disqualified on July 28, 2017, in the Panama Papers case.

The petition against 68-year-old Asif was filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Usman Dar, seeking his disqualification for holding an Iqama (work permit) of the UAE.”It is not a pleasant duty for any court to be called upon to examine and exercise powers of judicial review which may lead to an elected representative being disqualified as Member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament),” the bench said.

Asif is one of the top leaders of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and his disqualification is considered as another huge blow to the party ahead of election scheduled to be held after June.”The Registrar of this Court is directed to send certified copy of this judgment to the Election Commission for de-notifying the Respondent as Member of the National Assembly of Pakistan. A copy is also directed to be sent to the Speaker of National Assembly of Pakistan for information,” the court said.The petitioner alleged that Asif had Unlimited Term Employment Contract with International Mechanical and Electrical Co. He was hired as a full-time employee in July, 2011 and held various positions.

He claimed that Asif under the contract was to receive a monthly basic salary of AED 35,000 along with a monthly allowance of AED 15,000, which he did not declare. The petition also pointed out that the iqama of Asif was renewed on June 29, 2017 and was valid till June 28, 2019.During the hearing, Asif had submitted a letter from the company that he was not full time employee and only worked as a consultant whose presence was not needed in the UAE, where the company is based.Pakistan’s Supreme Court last year also disqualified finance minister Ishaq Dar from office after an investigation into the wealth of Sharif.