ISLAMABAD: A high-level meeting of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday, chaired by Justice (retd) Fakhruddin Ebrahim, concluded that legal action will be taken against Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik and 11 other disqualified parliamentarians in the ongoing dual nationality case, Express News reported.
Addressing the media, Secretary ECP Ishtiaq Ahmed said that Senator Rehman Malik had not yet been denotified, hence he still held his public office(s) and was not disqualified.
Clarifying the legal process that the ECP would take, Ahmed said that the Supreme Court of Pakistan in its short order had directed Chairman Senate Nayyar Bukhari and the ECP to take required action against Malik. Hence once the ECP receives a reference from the chairman, it will denotify the senator, which will be sent to a session judge, after which Malik will stand to be disqualified.
Ahmed said that if chairman senate did not take a decision within 30 days, the ECP will take required action against Malik.
The secretary ECP clarified that the SC had directed the concerned authorities to take action against Malik, regarding his false declaration of not holding dual nationality while filing nomination papers for the 2008 elections.
Regading Malik’s right to appeal against the decision, Ahmed said that the minister can approach the SC since a detailed judgement in his case was pending, with only a short order having been issued so far. But after he would be denotified, he has to appeal to the sessions judge.
“If convicted, Malik can either face three years imprisonment or a fine of up to Rs 5,000 or both, as well as being ineligible to contest elections for the next five years,” Ahmed said.
It is noteworthy that earlier the Supreme Court of Pakistan had disqualified 11 other parliamentarians, both provincial and national, in the dual nationality case, except for Malik. The SC had instead directed Chairman Senate and the ECP to review the case.
However, ECP had directed all provincial election commissioners to take legal action against the 12 parliamentarians, including Malik, under Section 78 of the People’s Representation Act 1976, for ‘corrupt practice’.
ECP also directed the issuance of a schedule for holding bye-elections to fill the vacancies created due to the disqualification of the 11 parliamentarians.
The parliamentarians included former National Assembly members Chaudhry Zahid Iqbal, Farahnaz Ispahani, Farhat Mahmood Khan, Mohammad Jamil Malik; former Member Provincial Assembly members Mohammad Ikhlaq, Dr Ashraf Chauhan, Nadia Gabol, Amna Buttar, Waseem Qadir, Nadeem Khadim and Ahmed Ali Shah.
Parliamentarians to submit fresh declarations
Ahmed added that the SC has also directed secretaries to receive fresh declarations from parliamentarians, testifying that they do not hold dual nationality.
The ECP secretary said that dual nationality holders cannot be parliamentarians in Pakistan.
Regarding the voters list, Ahmed said that the ECP has convened a meeting of major political parties in the assemblies to apprise them of the election preparations, as well as taking recommendations from them.