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Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif disqualified for life in Iqama case

After Khawaja Asif's disqualification, Pakistan has no foreign minister at the moment.

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif has been disqualified by the Islamabad High Court under Article 62 of the Constitution for concealing facts about holding an Iqama [foreign work permit].

Following the court orders, the foreign minister cannot contest elections for life. The bench headed by Justice Athar Minallah and comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akther Kiyani announced the verdict.

On April 10, a larger bench of the high court had reserved its verdict over the petition filed by PTI member Usman Dar, seeking disqualification of the foreign minister for concealing the facts about holding an Iqama [foreign work permit] of United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The bench was hearing the petition filed by Usman Dar, announced its decision today as the notice was already issued to all parties concerned.

Read: Ink thrown at foreign minister during speech in Sialkot

During the last hearing, the court inquired that how a person doing a full-time job could oversee a ministry in Pakistan. To this, Asif’s counsel said that his client was working for a Dubai-based bank before elections.

How did the case initiate against Khawaja Asif?

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Usman Dar, who had contested against Asif during 2013 general elections in the NA-110 constituency from PTI’s platform, filed a petition against Khawaja Asif, arguing  that Asif hid the fact of holding an Iqama, or a foreign work permit, in his nomination papers.

Dar, through his counsel Sikandar Bashir Mohmand, nominated Asif, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the National Assembly secretary as respondents and sought relief under Article 199(1)9b)(ii) read with Article 63(1)(f).

Earlier, Mohmand had argued before another larger bench that Asif in his nomination papers mentioned himself as a businessman whereas his Abu Dhabi Iqama proved that he was and still is an employee of a company in a different capacity.

The petitioner had 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 the International Mechanical and Electrical Company (IMECL) – a limited liability company located in Abu Dhabi and existing under UAE laws.

“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.

Khawaja Asif had earlier submitted a letter of a UAE-based International Mechanical and Electrical company in the court stating that he had never served as full-time employee of the firm.

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).

 

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