ISLAMABAD: A larger bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday reserved judgment on a petition by a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader, seeking Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif’s disqualification under Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution.
The larger bench, comprising Justice Athar Minallah, Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, also directed the parties to submit written arguments.
The petitioner, Usman Dar, who had contested against Asif during 2013 general elections in NA-110 constituency from the PTI’s platform, had argued 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).
Mohmand earlier 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 counsel said Asif was not entitled to holding office of an MNA or that of a federal minister under the ‘Unlimited Term Employment Contract’ between him and the International Mechanical & Electrical Company (IMECL), a limited liability company located in Abu Dhabi and existing under UAE laws.
He claimed that Asif “has been continuously employed as a full time, salaried employee of IMECL since at least 2-7-2011” and held various positions, including that of ‘Legal Adviser’ and ‘Special Adviser’.
The counsel said Asif was to receive a monthly basic salary of AED35,000 along with monthly allowance of AED15,000, making an aggregate payment of AED50,000 per month.
In his reply earlier submitted before the previous larger bench, Asif said the petitioner had relied upon the documents appended by him along with his nomination papers prior to the 2013 elections.
The counsel for Asif said Dar was trying to achieve his mala fide objectives and seeking re-adjudication of the election dispute indirectly by filing the present petition which is contrary to the principle of law that says “what cannot be achieved directly cannot be achieved indirectly”.
In his reply, Asif said it was correct that he is employed as a legal advisor as stated in the employment form. He, however, said the business relationship is between the company and the respondent in accordance with the law and it does not relate to the national security or any matter which may be in conflict with the official functions being carried out by the respondent being the foreign minister.
There is no reason why the petitioner should object to the working relationship of Asif with the company in the UAE without showing violation of any express provision of law, he said, adding that remuneration fee received by Asif has been duly declared in his nomination form for the election held in May 2013.
He said the payment of AED35,000 plus AED15,000 allowances pertain to the year 2015 onward and could not be mentioned in the nomination form of 2013. He added the payments made are duly accounted-for in the income tax returns and the law of the land is being followed.
Asif’s counsel averred that assertion being peddled by Dar that Asif was a full time employee of IMECL is based on a misconception of the facts.