–Election watchdog bars PML-N VP from becoming ‘acting president’ or holding ‘functional party position’
–Firdous says govt will move courts against ECP verdict that fails to ‘ensure justice’
ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) disposed of a petition — filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders — challenging the appointment of Maryam Nawaz as a vice president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and ruled that she was eligible to hold the post.
A three-member bench, headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan, ECP ruled that Maryam cannot be appointed as the acting president of the party and that she should not accept any “functional party position”.
Reacting to the ECP’s ruling, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said that PTI had gone to the ECP with the petition for “cheap publicity”.
“Maryam Nawaz does not require any position or designation to help the people of Pakistan,” she said, adding: “Maryam’s services for the restoration of the Constitution and law is not hidden from anyone […] she stayed behind for five years and worked on health and education along with [former prime minister] Nawaz Sharif.”
The party spokesperson said that the current government does “small things” like the petition for which they had received a response from the election commission today.
Meanwhile, Maryam’s lawyer Barrister Zafarullah said that there was no such condition in Pakistani law that restricted an individual from holding a party position.
PTI TO CHALLENGE ECP RULING:
Separately, the ruling PTI has decided to approach courts against the ECP ruling that lets Maryam off the hook.
In a press conference following the decision, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Media and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan said: “Election commission’s verdict on Maryam Nawaz’s case will be challenged in court as it goes against prior court verdicts against the PML-N vice president.”
“The election commission’s verdict in the case deemed the PML-N stalwart to be a convict, yet failed to ensure justice,” she said, adding, “Maryam was not eligible to address rallies and gatherings as a party leader, nor is she eligible to hold office as a party representative due to her conviction.”
CASE AGAINST MARYAM:
The ECP had reserved the judgement on August 1 after hearing arguments from both sides and set August 27 for its announcement. However, the verdict was postponed twice as the election watchdog sought further arguments in the case.
On Monday, the commission announced that it would rule on Maryam’s fate on Tuesday.
As the hearing commenced on Monday, PTI counsel Hassan Maan argued that Section 203 of the constitution should be read with Article 62 and 63 recalling that a PTI candidate in South Punjab, Rai Hasan Nawaz, was dismissed from party designation on the same clause which bars disqualified leaders from holding a position in the party.
He further recalled that the Supreme Court had noted that Section 203 was formulated “just to benefit one person”.
The defense counsel argued that some political parties are headed by their presidents, some by chairmen and some by emirs. “The only person who matters is the one with authority,” he said, adding: “The vice presidents and subordinate ranks do not possess any significant power [in the party].”
The apex court had also mentioned about party head in its verdict, the counsel added while requesting the Commission to dismiss the petition.
On May 4, Maryam was appointed the vice-presidents of the PML-N along with 15 other leaders, day after party President and National Assembly Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif stepped down as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). According to the notification, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was appointed the senior vice president of the party while Ahsan Iqbal was made general secretary.
The PML-N vice president is currently in custody for her alleged involvement in a money laundering case. She was earlier named in Avenfield case and was sentenced to seven years in jail for abetting her father Nawaz Sharif.
She was also disqualified from contesting election or holding public office for 10 years to be reckoned from the date she is released after serving the sentence and she shall not be allowed to apply for or to be granted or allowed any financial facilities in the form of a loan for 10 years from the date of their conviction within the meaning of Section 15 of National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.
The sentence was later suspended by the Islamabad High Court (IHC).