ISLAMABAD (INP): The Islamabad High Court will start hearing a petition seeking Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif’s disqualification for possessing an iqama (UAE work permit) from Monday.
A larger bench headed by Justice Amir Farooq has sought a written response from the foreign minister. The petition for Asif’s disqualification was filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Usman Dar.
The petitioner was a PTI candidate in the 2013 general election in NA-110 – the Sialkot constituency in Punjab province from where Asif was elected to the National Assembly.
In the petition, Dar has stated that in view of the facts and documents appended with the petition, this is a fit matter for inquisitorial proceedings; and that Asif is not entitled to hold the office of MNA nor of the federal minister under the Unlimited Term Employment Contract (Employment Contract) between Asif and Int. Mech & Elec Co. LLC (IMECL), a limited liability company located in Abu Dhabi existing under the laws of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The petitioner has claimed that Asif has been continuously employed as a full time, salaried employee of IMECL since at least July 2, 2011, and has held various positions, including legal advisor and special advisor. He has submitted that first article of the employment contract stipulates that Asif must provide the services thereunder within the UAE while the second one states that employee shall only have one rest day per week.
As per the contract, he has claimed, Asif was to receive a monthly basic salary of AED35,000 along with a monthly allowance of AED15,000 which brings the total payment to AED50,000 per month. The same is already being received by and to which the respondent (Asif) is entitled (as a receivable and asset) whilst acting as the foreign minister of Pakistan and MNA from NA-110.
Dar has further claimed that the salary and allowances amount to Rs17,211,816 per annum at the prevailing current exchange rate and they have never been properly disclosed in Pakistan, adding that Asif is thus betraying his dishonest intent and non-righteous character.
He has stated that the documents attached with the petition regarding Asif’s employment period in the UAE reveal that he remained a fulltime employee at the IMECL from 2011 or before, till date. The documents, he maintains, prove that the latest labour card from UAE’s Ministry of Labour was issued on 29-6-2017 and the expiry date on it is June 28, 2019.
According to the petition, despite being the foreign minister and an MNA, Asif intends to secretly continue his fulltime employment with IMECL, in violation of his oath, his obligation of fidelity and the assurance of no conflict to federal minister office, while also being against his continuing obligation under provisions of Article 62 and 63 of the constitution.
He has argued that Asif has secretly been a fulltime, salaried employee of an offshore company from which he is entitled to receive a substantial salary amongst other allowances, alleging that he concealed this material information during the 2013 general election, declaring that he was a businessperson. “Such an individual, it is respectfully submitted, is not fit to lawfully continue to hold the office of Federal Minister or be an MNA,” he has stated, adding that in the wealth statements, he failed to declare the actual balance of his accounts.
The petitioner has requested the court to declare that Asif is not of good character under the Article 62(1)(d), inter alia, and nor is he honest and stands disqualified for holding public offices.
He has also prayed that the court declare Asif to be permanently disqualified from the position of an MNA from the NA-110 constituency and also be permanently disqualified from holding the office of a federal minister in the cabinet.