The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) are all set to enter into a legal battle to get each other’s leadership disqualified by invoking vague constitutional clauses related to moral conduct.
Amended with ‘Islamic touch’ through 8th Amendment back in the 1980s and carried forward by successive governments, the contentious clauses, Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution, will once again be a topic of discussion on television talk shows and on the streets in the coming days.
Two days after Arsalan Iftikhar, son of former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, announced that he would invoke Articles 62 and 63 against Imran Khan’s alleged moral turpitude, the PTI has vowed a tit-for-tat response by filing a similar reference against Premier Nawaz Sharif.
The terms “sagacious, righteous and non-profligate, honest and amen”, which are open to interpretation and abuse will haunt the two political heavyweights if they entered into a serious legal battle. Two MNAs from the PTI – Muraad Saeed and Ali Muhammad Khan – visited the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to seek copies of the nomination form Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had filed before the commission. “Nawaz doesn’t qualify to become a legislator. He is not ‘sadiq and ‘ameen’,” one of the PTI legislators told reporters outside the ECP building.
He also referred to the Asghar Khan case, where it is alleged that in the 1990 elections, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had bankrolled many politicians, including the Sharif brothers, to defeat Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).
The PTI members said Nawaz had cut a deal with the then military ruler after he was convicted of hijacking the plane of the then army chief, General Pervez Musharraf, who toppled the PML-N government in 1999.
“We’ve proof of his moral misconduct but we are not bringing up such matters at the moment,” a PTI leader told The Express Tribune.
In case the PML-N or Arslan Iftikhar take up matter of Imran’s alleged turpitude, the PTI seems all set to rake up scams of the PML-N politicians – a development which, analysts believe, will resurrect the politics of the 1990s.
Every candidate fills in the prescribed application form, called nomination papers, for contesting elections. Candidature of every contestant is evaluated by returning officers under Articles 62 and 63 to decide whether or not he/she is eligible to contest. If someone is not satisfied with the ROs’ decision, he/she can approach higher forums.
Neither of the two parties raised these questions against each other when their leaderships were contesting and won from several seats in the 2013 general elections.
Although the copies of these nomination papers are available on the ECP website and with the ROs in districts from where these politicians contested the elections, both Arslan – who the PTI alleges is backed by the PML-N – and Imran Khan’s party itself, visited the ECP headquarters to get the copies amid media fanfare.
ECP officials said they would be giving both sides the copies of documents, they have applied for. After the completion of documentation, a reference can be filed with the National Assembly speaker in the case of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan.
Once moved, Speaker Ayaz Sadiq will have to decide about the fate of any such reference. In case he rejects a reference, it dies down at the speaker’s chamber. However, if the speaker refers it to the ECP or if he doesn’t take any decision within 30 days of receiving it, the matter goes to election authorities.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2014.