Election Commission of Pakistan disposes of reference on Rehman Malik’s disqualification
By: Mumtaz Alvi
ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has disposed of a reference regarding the disqualification of Interior Minister Senator Rehman Malik on the basis of his holding dual nationality.
According to the ECP, there is no room for further action against him.The reference was sent by Acting Chairman Senate Sabir Ali Baloch who gave the opinion that the question of his disqualification does not arise under Article 63-2 of the constitution.
The Supreme Court had recently asked the Election Commission to disqualify 11 legislators after it was established they were dual nationality holders. However, in the case of Rehman Malik, the apex court had called for sending a case to the Senate chairman for action.
After Tuesday’s development at the Senate Secretariat, the ECP on its own could not take any action against Malik, who previously held British nationality as well but surrendered it afterwards.
Meanwhile, in order to avoid disqualification as a senator over the dual nationality issue, Dr Asim Hussain resigned from the Senate as its member.It may be noted that around 442 legislators are yet to file fresh affidavits with the ECP about their nationality in line with the Supreme Court’s recent order.
The name of Dr Asim Hussain has been removed from the list of senators and the date of his resignation mentioned on the Senate website is October 22. Reportedly, he is a dual nationality holder being a Canadian national as well. He has not mentioned any specific reason for his resignation.
Dr Asim, who first became federal minister, preferred to change his status to adviser for petroleum and natural resources after the issue of parliamentarians’ dual nationalities gained prominence in the media in the wake of the Supreme Court hearings of petitions on the issue.
Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim said on Monday that the Election Commission could consider action against Malik only after receiving a reference from the Senate chairman, as on its own, it has no powers to do so in this specific case.
Meanwhile, as many as 442 legislators have not been able so far to file their fresh affidavits with the ECP or their respective Senate or assembly secretariats. So far, among others, Chief Minister Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah is yet to submit his related documents, whereas the chief ministers of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan — Mian Shahbaz Sharif, Amir Haider Hoti and Muhammad Aslam Raisani — have already complied with the ECP direction. The deadline given to lawmakers to submit affidavits on their nationality afresh is November 10.
About 100 MNAs and 86 senators are among the lawmakers who have to comply with the Election Commission instructions contained in a letter written to them after the Supreme Court’s direction to find out how many MPs are holding dual or more nationalities.
Under article 63(1)(c), no person with dual or more nationalities can take part in elections to become a member of parliament or a provincial assembly. However, it is widely believed that scores of those sitting in the legislatures hold more than one nationality.
After the outright refusal by the Senate and the National Assembly secretariats to obtain such documents from members, the ECP directly wrote to each lawmaker of the Senate, National Assembly and four provincial assemblies and gave them more time to file fresh affidavits.