Khatm-e-Nabuwwat clause: Senior cabinet member may lose portfolio

Three-member inquiry panel submits report to Sharif; fixes responsibility on one individual

Sardar Sikander October 19, 2017

ISLAMABAD: A senior cabinet member may lose his ministerial portfolio over the change in a clause of Election Bill 2017, regarding Khatm-e-Nabuwwat or the Finality of the Prophethood, in the declaration form meant for public office holders.

“This is possible if the party leadership decides to implement, in letter and spirit, the findings of a high-level inquiry panel” which did not clear the cabinet member of responsibility for the change in the text of the Khatm-e-Nabuwwat oath, The Express Tribune has learnt on good authority.

The three-member inquiry panel had been set up by Nawaz Sharif in his capacity as president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

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The panel – headed by PML-N Chairman and Leader of the House in Senate Raja Zafarul Haq – has submitted its report to Sharif in London. Federal ministers Ahsan Iqbal and Mushahidullah Khan are members of the committee.

Sources said the panel had fixed responsibility on one individual. Action would be taken as soon as Sharif accorded a formal approval, they added.

However, the panel had not prescribed any action against the responsible individual, leaving it entirely at the discretion of Sharif to take any appropriate action in this regard, said the sources.

The inquiry panel quizzed about a dozen individuals as part of its probe, according to sources in the PML-N Secretariat. Those questioned included three senior PML-N leaders and nine officials of the National Assembly Secretariat.

A federal minister, a state minister and a special assistant equivalent to the status of a minister also faced the probe, said the sources, adding, “One of them, the senior one in the PML-N hierarchy, will have to face the music.”

Raja Zafarul Haq, who confirms submission of report to the former PM in London, did not elaborate, saying, “It will be inappropriate to share details of a confidential report without the approval of the competent authority.”

Asked if the responsibility had been fixed and action recommended, he said: “We have prepared the report and sent it to the competent authority. The rest is for them to decide.”

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According to insiders, the former prime minister and Chief Minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif were in favour of action against anyone found responsible for the embarrassment the government had to face due to the unwarranted change, but senior government functionaries advised the elder Sharif to exercise restraint since the matter has already been settled and the text has been restored to its original form. They said any further action would reignite the issue.

“There is no need to dig up the issue again,” a PML-N leader summed up the stance of the federal government functionaries.

“The issue is too sensitive. If anyone is found guilty, he can be taken to task through internal accountability instead of any public action that could put his life at risk,” he said, adding that was the reason why the inquiry report had not been made public yet.

Earlier this week, Sharif had summoned a meeting of PML-N leaders in London, including three members of the inquiry panel. However, the meeting has not yet taken place because of the sensitivity of the matter, according to sources.

“Officially, taking up the matter will imply that something has to be done in the light of the inquiry report. So, damage assessment needs to be done beforehand,” a PML-N leader privy to the matter said.


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