KARACHI: Dr Imran Ali Shah, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmaker in the Sindh Assembly who beat up a citizen on a road in Karachi last week, is most likely to be fined and suspended from the party for one month as a disciplinary action, according to party sources.
The PTI had formed a three-member disciplinary committee to investigate the incident and recommend action against the MPA. The committee is headed by Justice Rana Zaki with Dr Pervaiz Ghaffar and Mehmood Maulvi as its other members.
According to a source in the PTI, Dr Shah will be suspended from the party for a month and will also be told to pay Rs500,000 to a charitable organisation as fine. The disciplinary committee has also proposed that Dr Shah – who is an orthopaedic surgeon – should bear the cost of bone-related surgeries of 20 underprivileged patients.
However, even if Dr Shah is suspended from the party, he would still remain an MPA and enjoy all the perks and benefits of being a legislator. According to the source, no such proposal is on cards to de-seat Dr Shah from the Sindh Assembly.
These disciplinary recommendations, according to the source, have been sent to Islamabad for endorsement after which the party would officially announce them. “Islamabad’s verdict on the punishment should be final,” the source said, adding that since Dr Shah is an MPA, the Karachi’s disciplinary committee cannot take action against him on its own.
According to the PTI source, the party leadership is taking the issue seriously. “Since the Chief Justice of Pakistan has also taken a suo motu notice, this isn’t a normal case,” the source said.
Last week, a video went viral on the media in which Dr Shah could be seen thrashing a middle-age man on a road in Karachi. The man who was being manhandled was later identified as Dawood Chauhan, senior deputy director for coordination at the Civil Aviation Authority.
Within a few hours of the incident, the PTI issued Dr Shah a show-cause notice which was also released to media. The party stated that the MPA’s action of beating up a citizen was not acceptable and he had been asked to offer explanation. After facing severe criticism from public as well as his own party, Dr Shah went to Dawood’s home along with PTI Karachi President Firdous Shamim Naqvi and apologised to him. Later, the PTI announced that it had suspended Dr Shah until the disciplinary committee’s decision.
However, Dawood’s son Labib Chauhan was not satisfied with the apology. He took to social media to express his reservations.
Taking notice of the incident, Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar also sought a reply from Dr Shah who informed the apex court on Monday that his act of using force against the citizen was in self-defence.
“The act of using criminal force is non-cognisable and compoundable offence under Section 352 and the parties have settled the matter amicably. [The] act was unintentional… and without any preparation in any manner whatever,” read the reply submitted by MPA in the SC.
PTI Karachi leadership was not on the same page regarding suspension of Dr Shah as different party leaders and spokespersons of the party continued giving conflicting statements.
PTI MNA from District Central, Najeeb Haroon, tweeted two days after the incident that given the severity of the matter, Dr Shah had been suspended for a month. Final action will be taken after considering the recommendations of the party’s disciplinary committee, Haroon added.
When contacted by The Express Tribune, PTI Senior Central Vice-President Ali Zaidi also confirmed Dr Shah’s suspension. However, party spokespersons denied any suspension and later in the day PTI Central Spokesperson Fawad Hussain tweeted a clarification, “the matter is referred to PTI Sindh chapter and if needed appropriate action will be taken”.
Even after Hussain’s tweet, Zaidi maintained his position that Dr Shah had been suspended from the party. When Naqvi’s personal assistant was contacted, he responded that the matter was with the disciplinary committee and Dr Shah had not been suspended. Later in the night, the party issued a statement which declared the MPA’s suspension but no suspension letter was released on the media.
Responding to all this confusion, Naqvi said Dr Shah’s suspension from the party was till the disciplinary committee’s decision after which the quantum of punishment would be decided. The MPA’s suspension, he said, was announced through a press statement, which he believed should have been enough.
According to Naqvi, Dr Shah cannot enjoy any party position and cannot attend party meetings while he is suspended. “But he’ll remain part of the Sindh Assembly.” This means Shah will represent the PTI in the Sindh Assembly until he’s de-seated.
In the meantime, the Karachi disciplinary committee head said that there has been no decision by the disciplinary committee regarding Dr Shah as yet. She asserted that the disciplinary committee takes action on its own and sometimes refers issues to the central leadership if it thinks they are beyond their power.
When asked if the party can de-seat any legislator as a disciplinary action, Zaki responded that the party chairperson had suspended its lawmakers after the Senate elections and he could do that in this as well.