PML-N was served another blow with foreign minister Khawaja Asif being disqualified as a parliament member by a special three-member bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) today. The bench maintained that Khawaja Asif has failed to disclose his UAE Iqama and his employment at a company there. IHC ruled that Asif has “deliberately and willfully not disclosed his status as an employee of the [foreign] Company”. The use of ‘Sadiq’ and ‘Ameen’ in court has become an expected norm. And the internet is yet again divided over whether the verdict is fair or not.
While holding an Iqama is not grounds for disqualification under Article 62(1)(f), the failure to disclose all assets is.
A copy of the Iqama, therefore, is also making rounds over the internet.
Breaking News: Islamabad High Court DISQUALIFIES Foreign Minister @KhawajaMAsif for not declaring an Iqama. PTI’s @UdarOfficial (usman Dar) had filed this petition against Khawaja Asif pic.twitter.com/vhxfW5hmJs
— Mansoor Ali Khan (@_Mansoor_Ali) April 26, 2018
Some opposed the decision outright, by appealing to the notions of what it means to be a proper democratic establishment.
After prime minister, foreign minister is disqualified. The message is loud and clear to the international community. Pakistan is under judicial Martial Law. It appears highly unlikely elections will be held on time. #KhawajaAsif
— Yousuf Nazar (@YousufNazar) April 26, 2018
The right to choose their representatives should be with the people, Khwaja Asif’s decision is continuity of taking away this right from the people. The people stand with Khawaja Asif #StayStrongKhawajaAsif
— Atif Rauf (@Atifrauf79) April 26, 2018
There was no need of civilianFM in Pakistan because Foreign Ministry had never been under control of civilian FM ever in 70 years. So disqualification was on papers since he treated US harshly by under ???? judiciary #StayStrongKhawajaAsif
— Respect My Vote (@attasial69) April 26, 2018
This Twitter user had an interesting take on how biased the decision is.
Imran Khan announced 48 hours in advance that a big wicket of PMLN will fall. Today islamabad High Court disqualified Khawaja Asif for holding Iqama. It’s now a historical fact that SC didn’t disqualify IK for owning Niazi Services offshore n not declaring its assets in Pak pic.twitter.com/EKYla6ruuE
— Murtaza Ali Shah (@MurtazaGeoNews) April 26, 2018
Others feel this is a planned conspiracy against Nawaz Sharif loyalists.
Khawaja Asif has been disqualified by PTI’s B team (Judiciary) Because he is Nawaz Sharif Loyalist and he is unbeatable in elections! No worries do as much shit as you can people of Pakistan are awake and fully aware of these biased judicial decision! #StayStrongKhawajaAsif
— Hamza Rizwan (@HamzaaRizwan11) April 26, 2018
Then, of course, opposition supporters came out in their full-blown glory.
— PTI South Punjab (@PTISPOfficial) April 26, 2018
In all the political side-taking, the IHC has observed the following in announcing the verdict.
The IHC’s judgement against Khawaja Asif observed that it would have been appropriate if the political party to which the petitioner belonged, the PTI, had raised the issue in the parliament before invoking the jurisdiction of the court.https://t.co/yEswxNjUif pic.twitter.com/c4JLA3UiQm
— Dawn.com (@dawn_com) April 26, 2018
Other than the matter being solved in parliament, the public too has a role to play in shaping the political atmosphere in such cases. It is inevitable that political party affiliations will play out strongly in the comments one makes on the situation. However, mere name calling and blind support for either party will be counterproductive to Pakistan’s development as a formidable democracy. Instead of merely lambasting a political leader and supporting the other, let’s not forget to have important debates on the matter. As some of the tweets so do above, we must look at what the decision means for democracy. If one says the decision is biased, there must be some facts to back that up. And, if the other says it is a fair decision, they too must have logical reasoning to say so. By looking at the individual alone can we arrive at whether the decision is fair or not, instead of blindly supporting a party in the name of putting them in power.