Fahad Ali discusses an interesting situation of the disqualification of Imran
With uncertainty deepening by the day, the signs are getting more confusing. What was conjectured for long that attempts were made to arrange for a level playing field and disqualification of Imran Khan was accordingly disqualified just days after sweeping to victory on six of the seven National Assembly seats he had contested in the 16 October by-polls from being chosen as or remaining a member of parliament under Article 63(1)(p) of the Constitution.
A four-member bench, headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) announced the verdict at the ECP Secretariat in Islamabad. The decision was taken by the five-member bench. However, the member from Punjab was not present for today’s announcement. The sentence against the PTI chief was passed unanimously over his failure to properly account for monetary proceeds from the sale of gifts he had received from foreign dignitaries while he was prime minister.
Apart from depriving him of the seats he had just won, the verdict also formally removes Imran Khan from the National Assembly seat he had retained in 2018. According to the verdict, legal proceedings will be initiated against Imran for misdeclaration. It was widely believed that PTI saw it coming and its leadership was conscious of its complicity in the Toshakhana case and this was precisely the reason that it persistently kept on assailing the partiality of the ECP.
And It was accepted by all neutral observers that the criticism of ECP by PTI was harsh and was the result of personal venom harbored by the PTI leader and his spouse who had become controversial in Toshakhana affairs. It must be appreciated that ECP had little option but to penalize Imran Khan keeping in view the abundance of proof against him and the political pressure exerted by government benches.
Administrative Control Of The Cabinet Division
The reference was filed in August against Imran Khan by the coalition government, for not sharing details of Toshakhana gifts and proceeds from their alleged sale. Lawmakers from the government had submitted the reference to National Assembly Speaker who had subsequently forwarded it to Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) for further action.
The reference against Imran was filed by MNA Barrister Mohsin Nawaz Ranjha carrying signatures of lawmakers Agha Hassan Baloch, Salahudeen Ayubi, Ali Gohar Khan, Syed Rafiullah Agha, and Saad Waseem Sheikh and it was subsequently forwarded to CEC Raja. In the disqualification of Imran reference, MNAs from the ruling alliance included documentary evidence to corroborate their claims against the ex-premier and sought the disqualification Of Imran under Sections 2 and 3 of Article 63 of the Constitution, read with Article 62(1)(f).
Established in 1974, the Tosha¬khana is a department under the administrative control of the Cabinet Division and stores precious gifts given to rulers, parliamentarians, bureaucrats, and officials by heads of other governments and states and foreign dignitaries. According to Toshakhana rules, gifts/presents and other such materials received by persons to whom these rules apply shall be reported to the Cabinet Division.
Last year, the PIC had accepted an application by Islamabad-based journalist Rana Abrar Khalid and directed the Cabinet Division to provide the requested information about the gifts received by the then prime minister Imran from foreign heads of state, heads of governments, and other foreign dignitaries, description/specification of each gift, information about the gifts retained by the PM and the Rules under which gifts thus received are retained by him. The Cabinet Division was told to share the required information within 10 working days and upload it on the official website as well.
Imran Khan Maintaining Jeopardize International Ties
Subsequently, the Cabinet Division challenged the PIC order in the Islamabad High Court (IHC), claiming that it was illegal, without lawful authority. The then-government took the stance that the dis¬closure of any information related to Toshakhana jeopardizes international ties.
In April this year, the IHC directed Deputy Attorney General to ensure the implementation of the PIC order to publicize details of the gifts presented to former prime minister Imran Khan by heads of state since he assumed office in August 2018. However, the PTI, while in government, had been reluctant to disclose details of the gifts presented to Imran Khan maintaining that doing so would jeopardize international ties, even as the Pakistan Infor¬mation Commission (PIC) ordered it to do so.
But later, in a written reply submitted to the ECP on September 8, Imran Khan admitted selling at least four presents he had received during his tenure as the prime minister. The former premier, in his reply, had maintained that the sale of the gifts that he had procured from the state treasury after paying Rs. 21.56 million fetched about Rs. 58 million. One of the gifts included a graff wristwatch, a pair of cuff links, an expensive pen, and a ring while the other three gifts included four Rolex watches.
Though it was pointed out that instead of participating in and precipitating the technical knockout of yet another popular leader on flimsy grounds, the ECP should have considered turning the matter over to the tax authorities it exercised its judicial right and delivered a verdict that may be interpreted by many as an aberration of solid legalistic arguments and smacks of the quasi-judicial decision of which the administrative mindset of the personnel of the current ECP are known for.
Disqualification Of Imran Khan’s Exposed
They carried out an investigation widely believed to be deeply flawed and without substance that usually results in abysmally low conviction rates when presented before a higher judiciary. It is also difficult to believe that justice was done in such cases Imran Khan was penalized after he fell from power
The disqualification has exposed yet again that the powerful establishment has again used its tried and tested weapon and pitiably the political leaders have again fallen victim to it. The most worrying aspect is that the country is in crisis but instead of dousing the fires various forces are making attempt after attempt to put out fires with petrol.
The political leadership is consistently ignoring to sit at the table to negotiate a way out of the crisis without realizing that there are no winners where things stand at the moment and it would be folly to ignore the growing discontent and anger in the hyper-polarised.
The political stalemate is required to break unless the parties wish to rule a country broken by an economic crisis and divided bitterly along partisan lines. There will be little left but ashes to rule if things continue in the manner that they have in the past few months.
Strict security measures were in place at the ECP’s office ahead of the ruling with police, Rangers, and Frontier Corps personnel deployed on-site in large numbers. Earlier, the ECP sent a letter to Islamabad police, requesting foolproof security inside
The letter also requested that two security personnel in civil dress and a traffic warden be provided as well. The ECP stressed that all necessary security arrangements be completed, particularly inside the ECP secretariat’s building, and the matter was treated as most urgent. There were reports of protests in Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar, and Karachi. The Weekender