PM’s escape from disqualification next to impossible?

PM’s escape from disqualification next to impossible?

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif faces likely disqualification as the only viable option left for him is to file objections over the Joint Investigation Team's (JIT) final report. The JIT recently submitted a report against Sharif family's business in and outside the country. It declared the family's assets beyond their known sources of income. The JIT mentioned hundreds of documents which, it claimed, were solid evidence against the Sharif family. If relied upon, these evidences are enough for PM's disqualification under Article 62 (1)(f) as the PM has been found guilty of concealing assets in the nomination papers for the 2013 elections and his wealth statement. According to Chaudhry Faisal, a member of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) legal team, the court had de-seated Iftikhar Ahmad Cheema because he had concealed his wife's property in his nomination papers. However, the process of 'administering justice' seems to be lengthier, perhaps months long, as the objections from the aggrieved party are yet to be filed. The case will then be fixed for hearings. Sardar Latif Khosa, a senior lawyer and former Punjab governor, told Daily Times that the PM faced disqualification. 

"Now the aggrieved family can only file objections. They will raise objections on each accusation against them. The most expected objection on the JIT report will be that it had not verified the Qatari letter, which is the backbone of the defense," he said.

"The claim by the Sharif family that the JIT is biased against them can also be another objection," Khosa said, adding that they could also express mistrust on the implementation bench. "I don't think any such objection carries any weight," he said, adding that the purpose of filing the objections was only to delay the matter.

He said that the ruling party could also try to bring legislation for securing the right to appeal on a case filed under Article 183 (3) as the Supreme Court of Pakistan had heard the matter of Panama Leaks under the said article.

"But even if they (the government) manage to bring such a law, it will be struck down by the court as the legislation will have been formulated with malafide intentions," Khosa said.

In its April 20 order, the SC had stated: "If found necessary for passing an appropriate order in this behalf, respondent No 1 (the PM) or any other person may be summoned and examined."

The former governor said that the court may disqualify PM Nawaz Sharif, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and PM's son-in-law Captain Safdar. "The court will not find itself hesitant to disqualify members of National Assembly if it feels that the JIT worked properly and gave the maximum opportunity to the Sharif family for their defense," Khosa said.

He, however, said that those who had tampered records and produced forged affidavits, trust deeds, Qatari letter or even any other fake document could be tried in court.

"The court might also direct the National Accountability Bureau to reopen all the pending cases against Nawaz Sharif and his family," Khosa said, adding that all this would happen in a trial court, while the SC would only decide the matter regarding disqualification.



Published in Daily Times, July 16th , 2017.