IHC rules Vawda submitted a false affidavit, should be prosecuted

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Saturday issued its detailed order in the disqualification case of Federal Minister Faisal Vawda.

Justice Aamer Farooq of the IHC had on March 3 disposed of the petition challenging Vawda’s election after the minister submitted his resignation from the National Assembly (NA).

The IHC, in its detailed order, stated that, prima facie, the affidavit submitted by the PTI leader regarding his dual nationality at the time of his election to the NA is “false”.

“Since the affidavits were tendered before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), it is just and proper that the ECP probes into the matter of veracity of affidavit furnished by Faisal Vawda on 11.06.2018 and if same is found to be false to stipulate the effect thereof pursuant to observations made in PLD 2020 SC 591,” the order said.

The judgement noted that since the lawmaker has resigned as member national assembly (MNA), no writ of quo-warranto can be issued with respect to holding dual nationality.

“However, the matter of furnishing false affidavit is to be probed by the Election Commission of Pakistan […] and the commission may pass appropriate orders with respect to the same,” it added.

The court also observed with “dismay that respondent No.1 lingered on the matter by not filing reply under one pretext or the other which delayed the adjudication of the matter”.

In January of last year, media reports revealing that Vawda may have committed perjury by falsely declaring in an oath to the ECP that he did not hold any foreign nationality had surfaced while he was in possession of a United States (US) passport at the time he filed his nomination papers on June 11, 2018. The minister remained an American national even when the scrutiny of his nomination papers was completed.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Supreme Court of Pakistan had categorically ruled that candidates holding dual nationality are to submit a renunciation certificate of the foreign nationality along with their nomination papers.

Earlier in February, the ruling PTI’s parliamentary board had stuck with its decision of nominating MNA Faisal Vawda as its candidate for the Senate elections from Sindh.

Reportedly, the decision was taken during a meeting of the parliamentary board chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, wherein the premier said that Vawda has rendered services for the party.

A few days before that, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had handed out a fine of Rs50,000 on Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda for repeatedly seeking adjournment of disqualification proceedings against him.

The commission had also directed him to appear in-person in the next hearing.

The ECP has been since January 2020 hearing the claim against Vawda seeking his disqualification for purportedly holding dual nationality at the time of filing of nomination papers for the 2018 general elections.

Presiding over the proceedings, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja had said that the case has already been delayed, reprimanding the defence counsel for indulging in delaying practices.

As the hearing resumed Tuesday, assistant defence counsel, Hasnain Ali Chohan, had sought an adjournment due to the engagement of Vawda’s counsel, Muhammad bin Mohsin, in a Lahore court.

While the party has been facing backlash over its fielded candidates in the upcoming Senate elections, this controversy has now been underscored when the friend of First Lady Bushra Bibi submitted her nomination papers for the Senate election, it emerged.

According to a report by a local news outlet, Farhat Shahzadi alias Farah Khan submitted nomination papers for the reserved seat for women. Moreover, her papers to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) were submitted at the last minute through her lawyer instead of being submitted in person.

The ruling PTI has additionally issued its official ticket to Dr Zarqa for the ladies’ seat from Punjab.

Farhat is the wife of former district council chairman Ahsan Iqbal Jamil and daughter-in-law of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MPA Chaudhry Iqbal.

The ECP has announced the schedule for the holding of elections for the upper house of the parliament on March 3. Monday was the last day for candidates to submit their nomination papers.

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