The Election Commission of Pakistan on Tuesday imposed a fine of Rs50,000 on Federal Minister Faisal Vawda on seeking adjournments again and again in the disqualification case, directing him to appear in-person on the next hearing.
The ECP was hearing the petition seeking the federal minister’s disqualification due to his dual nationality.
Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja, who was presiding over the proceedings, said the case has already been delayed and reprimanded the counsel representing Vawda.
When the hearing resumed today, assistant counsel Hasnain Ali Chohan sought an adjournment due to Vawda’s lawyer, Muhammad bin Mohsin’s, engagement in a Lahore court. Member ECP Irshad Qaiser asked him, “In which capacity have you appeared, you don’t even have the power of attorney”.
Another ECP member Altaf Ibrahim Qureshi said that the lawyer has not attached any evidence in this regard and the minister’s attorney should have managed his time with the court. On this, petitioner Qadir Mandokhel responded to Hasnain Ali Chohan and said, “You are the minister’s coordinator in Karachi”.
CEC Sultan Raja said the minister was supposed to respond to questions regarding his dual nationality in the hearing today.
“If the defendant failed to respond on the next haring, the ECP will itself approach the US Consulate for details,” the CEC said and adjourned the hearing till February 24.
Dual nationality: What future holds for Faisal Vawda?
It is worth noting that Faisal Vawda is accused of hiding his dual nationality while filing nomination papers back in 2018 therefore it is being questioned will Faisal Vawda be disqualified. According to a report, published by The News, Mr. Vawda was a US national when he submitted his documents in June 2018.
According to the report, the last date to file nomination papers for the elections held in July 2018 was June 8 and later extended for another three days. Taking his documents and evidence, Vawda submitted election papers on the last date — June 11, 2018 —along with an affidavit wherein he declared himself holding no citizenship other than that of Pakistani. The Returning Officer (RO) of NA-249 Karachi, his electoral constituency, approved his nomination papers on June 18, 2018. It was only after this approval that Vawda applied for renunciation of his US nationality in US Consulate Karachi meaning thereby he was an American citizen at the time of filing.
Legal experts believe that whoever holds dual nationality at the time of submitting their nomination papers is set for instant disqualification. Moreover, the person concerned could be penalized for perjury as well.
PTI’s leader often remains in the spotlight for all wrong reasons. Recently, Mr. Vawda was in the news for flashing ‘military boot’ in a live TV show at opposition members of PPP and PML-N, ridiculing them for their unconditional support for Army Act Amendment Bill while disparaging the ruling party, PTI as the stooge of Establishment all this while.
Before that, he was schooled by his own party after his heroic entry at the site of a terror attack at the Chinese Embassy in Karachi. Faisal Vawda was spotted along with the Police wearing a bullet-resistant vest and a gun in hand.
Last year, PM Khan bashed and reprimanded Faisal Vawda, personally after he reached Line of Control and had himself photographed with the rubble of downed Indian fighter Jet. His stunt was not taken well in the party.
Dual Nationals: Verdict of the Supreme Court and Declaration of ECP
It is important to look at the recent decisions of the apex court to understand will Faisal Vawda be disqualified. The Supreme Court of Pakistan ruled back in 2012 that lawmakers holding dual nationalities were not eligible to hold any public offices and declared all such lawmakers as disqualified. The top court had mentioned that the lawmakers were being disqualified under Article 62 and Article 63 of the Constitution.
A three-judge bench led by then Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry disqualified 4 legislators from the National Assembly, 5 from the Punjab Assembly and 2 from the Sindh Assembly back then. The ECP had declared in 2013– while hearing a petition challenging the qualification of Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri to head his party– that dual nationals could not hold any office in a political party.
Under Section 5(1) of the Political Parties Order of 2002: “Every citizen, not being in the service of Pakistan, shall have the right to form or be a member of a political party or be otherwise associated with a political party or take part in political activities or be elected as an office-bearer of a political party, provided that a person shall not be appointed or serve as an office-bearer of a political party if he is not qualified to be, or is disqualified from being elected or chosen as a member of the majlis-i-shoora (parliament) under Article 63 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan or under any other law for the time being in force.”
Politicians and bureaucrats have different opinions regarding dual citizenship. Some politicians believe that holding dual nationality is not a crime while many others think it questions one’s loyalty to the motherland. In Pakistan, holding dual nationality is a matter of concern particularly for those who hold public offices. Politicians in Pakistan who have dual nationalities are oftentimes subject to political victimization.