ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif was never a full time employee of a company based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the firm stated in a letter sent to the Islamabad High Court (IHC).
The letter sent by Elias Solloum, the managing director of the International Mechanical and Electrical Company (IMECO), stated that Asif had served as “legal advisor, private law” for the company and the agreement [Iqama] executed with him was a standard document approved by the UAE government.
“However, the terms stated in the agreement [Iqama] were not the understanding between the parties,” he said. “The relationship has been cordial, with mutual consent and there was no requirement for him to be present in UAE for any period of time and we have been seeking his advice as and when required telephonically and during his planned visit to UAE,” Solloum stated in the letter dated April 12.
The letter read that the agreement was renewed in accordance with the UAE law and Asif became the company’s management consultant. It added that Asif was paid a mutually agreed upon fee for his services.
“Asif was never a full time employee of the company and was not required to stay in UAE as mentioned in the agreement,” the letter stated, adding, “There is total flexibility in the UAE after execution of the standard document to agree to any terms with employees and consultants of the company and the UAE government does not interfere in this respect.”
The company official stated, “A representative of the company is willing to appear before any court in Pakistan to confirm the above facts.”
Asif’s counsel Rashdeen Nawaz submitted the additional documents before the IHC, pointing out that the court had allowed submission of additional documents till April 16.
On April 10, a larger bench of the IHC had reserved judgment on a petition filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Usman Dar, seeking Asif’s disqualification under Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution.
The petitioner, who contested against Asif during 2013 general elections in NA-110 from PTI’s platform, argued that he should be disqualified as he hid the fact of holding an Iqama in his nomination papers.
The petitioner through his counsel, Sikandar Bashir Mohmand, had earlier argued before another larger bench that Asif mentioned himself as businessman in his nomination papers while his Abu Dhabi Iqama proved that “he was, and still is, an employee of a company in a different capacity”.
The counsel said that Asif was not entitled to holding a public office under the ‘Unlimited Term Employment Contract’ between him and the IMECL. He claimed that Asif “has been continuously employed as a full time, salaried employee of IMECL since at least July 2, 2011” and held various positions, including ‘legal adviser’ and ‘special adviser’.
Subsequently, Asif stated that the petitioner had relied upon documents appended by him along with his nomination papers before the 2013 elections.
Asif contended it was correct that he was employed as legal advisor, but “the business relationship between the company and the respondent” did not constitute a conflict of interest or pose a national security threat.
He said the fee he received had been duly declared in his nomination form for the election held in May 2013. He said the payment of 35,000 dirham plus 15,000 dirham allowances pertained to the year 2015 onward and could not be mentioned in the nomination form of 2013.