ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif on Monday challenged the formation of Islamabad High court (IHC)’s larger bench to hear a petition seeking his disqualification for possessing a foreign work permit, also known as ‘Iqama’ in the gulf countries.
The foreign minister submitted a seven-page reply in the court, challenging the formation of a three-member bench on Sept 23.
He opined that the formation of a larger bench would ultimately deprive him of the right to appeal while claiming the petitioner has gone through all legal remedies to get him disqualified from parliament.
Moreover, the foreign minister sought time from the court for submitting a detailed reply over his Iqama. The court while approving the request has adjourned the hearing till November 30.
The petition was filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Usman Dar, seeking Khawaja Asif’s ouster as Foreign Minister over non-disclosure of his Iqama, a permit to work in the UAE.
Earlier on Sept 23, a larger bench headed by Justice Aamer Farooq had sought a written reply on the matter from the foreign minister after declaring the petition against him maintainable at the last hearing.
The petitioner adopted a stance that Asif is ineligible to hold the office of MNA as well as federal minister for being a party to an ‘unlimited term employment contract’ between him and UAE-based International Mechanical and Electrical Co (IMECO).
“Asif has been hired as a full-time employee of IMECO since July 2, 2011 and served at various positions, including legal and special advisor,” the PTI leader claimed in his petition.
According to the contract signed between two parties, Asif was to receive a monthly basic salary of AED35,000 along with a monthly allowance of AED15,000.
Asif was still receiving the salary and allowance while serving as foreign minister, the petitioner claimed while requesting the court to disqualify him.
It merits to note here that the employment permits of two federal ministers – Khawaja Asif and Ahsan Iqbal – were surfaced after the Panama joint investigation team (JIT) unearthed ex-PM Nawaz Sharif’s UAE-based Iqama (work permit).