ISLAMABAD: Despite rejecting Dr Tahirul Qadri’s agenda unanimously on the ground of being un-constitutional, the political parties of Pakistan are themselves reluctant in upholding the constitution as they have failed to evolve any mechanism to ensure that their elected members fulfill conditions stipulated under Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution.
Major political parties including Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid-e-Azam), Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), Awami National Party (ANP) and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) all have allowed fake degree holders and tax evaders to contest the elections and represent their respective parties in the parliament.
For example, PPP allowed Jamshaid Ahmad Khan Dasti whose degree was declared fake by the Supreme Court of Pakistan to contest the election. Dasti’s election campaign was personally attended by the then Prime Minister of the party Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani. He is not the only such case in the party. PPP’s Rahim Dad Khan, another fake degree holder is still the Senior Provincial Minister in Khyber Pakhtun Khwa government.
PML-Q’s fake degree holder Samina Khawar Hayat and Seemal Kamran are still members of Punjab Assembly.PML-N’s fake degree holder Farrah Deeba is member of provincial assembly while party’s MNA Syed Salman Mohsin Gilani is also a fake degree holder.
Under article 62 of the constitution, a member of parliament must be sagacious, righteous, honest and amen. Article 63 of the constitution says a parliamentarian will stand disqualified if he fails to pay a bank loan worth Rs2 million or more for more than one year from the due date. It says the member will also be disqualified if he defaults in payment of government dues and utility expenses, including telephone, electricity, gas and water charges in excess of Rs10,000 for over six months.
However, according to a recent report by the Centre for Investigative Reporting in Pakistan (CIRC), as many as 70 per cent of parliamentarians (305 out of present 437) do not file tax returns which are mandatory under the law.
While contacted by ‘The News’, PPP’s member of ticket awarding committee for Rawalpindi Division and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Political Affairs, Fawad Chaudhry said it is the job of Election Commission to ensure that fake degree holders are not re-elected.
He said article 62 and 63 were included in eighth amendment of the constitution in 1983 to target political opponents. He said some of the clauses of article 62 are very vague and difficult to implement.
However, Chaudhry said this year, the tickets for the parliamentary elections will be awarded by the party’s parliamentary board, keeping in view the character of candidates.PML-N spokesperson Senator Pervaiz Rashid said the party awarded the tickets after investigating the background of the potential candidates.
Asked why some fake degree holders are allowed to return to the parliament, he said those candidates were awarded tickets after the bachelor degree condition for parliamentarians had been abolished.
The central senior vice president of the Awami National Party (ANP), Senator Haji Muhammad Adeel said ANP would abide by the poll rules, set by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in selecting candidates.
While asked about the tax evaders in the party, he said: “These MPs were not liable to pay the tax. If someone does not have enough income, he is not supposed to pay the tax.”Adil said he is against some clauses of article 62 as it is difficult to determine who is honest and amen. “ In my view only Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him) can be declared Sadiq and Ameen.”
MQM spokesman Wasay Jalil was of the view that the party always award tickets to clean candidates on the basis of merit. He said all the members of MQM regularly pay taxes and utility bills.
However despite Jalil’s claim, the CIRC report shows that 62.5 percent of MQM’s legislators did not file income tax returns.PTI Secretary Information Shafqat Mahmood said his party has formulated a scrutiny committee to ensure that only clean candidates are awarded tickets for national and provincial assemblies.