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ECP disqualifies PTI's Faisal Vawda in dual nationality case

The ECP observes that Faisal Vawda had submitted a wrong affidavit at the time of filing his election nomination papers

February 09, 2022
PTI leader Faisal Vawda addressing a press conference in Islamabad. -File photo
PTI leader Faisal Vawda addressing a press conference in Islamabad. -File photo

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has disqualified  PTI’s Senator Faisal Vawda as a lawmaker in a case related to his dual nationality.

A three-member ECP bench headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja announced the verdict today, which was reserved on December 23 on a petition seeking disqualification of Vawda for concealing his dual nationality at the time of filing his election nomination papers in 2018.

The ECP bench had reserved its ruling after the complainant — PPP MNA Qadir Khan Mandokhail — completed his arguments.

In its judgment, the ECP observed that Faisal Vawda had submitted a wrong affidavit at the time of filing his election nomination papers in 2018.

Read More: A minister who was American when filed nomination papers

The ECP also declared him ineligible for holding the seat of a senator and ordered to withdraw the notification issued in this regard.

Vawda can approach the Supreme Court against the verdict, said the ECP.

The PTI leader had resigned from his National Assembly seat to conceal his crime, the ECP observed, and directed him to return all the perks and financial benefits which he had availed as a lawmaker in two months.

'Lifetime disqualification'

Talking to Geo News, former ECP secretary Kanwar Muhammad Dilshad said that Vawda also falls into the category of lifetime disqualification like former PM Nawaz Sharif and Jahangir Khan Tareen.

He said that he could challenge the verdict in the apex court.

Last hearing

In the last hearing, CEC Sikandar Sultan Raja had asked Mandokhail whether he wanted to present more documents or give additional arguments.

Mandokhail had said it was the 30th hearing of the case but he could not get the answers to his questions. The PPP leader had said, “ECP has been issuing warnings for the last one-and-a-half years.”

On this, Raja had said that the ECP will decide the case whether it gets the answers or not.

Mandokhail was of the view that Faisal Vawda had held US nationality at the time of filing his election nomination papers. He had said that the concerned RO was not punished as he had rejected his papers instead of disqualifying Vawda.

The PPP leader had said that Vawda had falsely declared in an oath to the ECP that he did not hold any foreign nationality, adding "the PTI leader had concealed his dual nationality during the scrutiny of his nomination papers."

Vawda’s counsel, however,  had rejected the allegations, saying that his client never applied for another country's nationality. He had said Vawda was born in the US and that his client had cancelled his American passport.

As per the NADRA’s record, Vawda’s US citizenship had been seized on May 29, 2018, his counsel had said.

The chief election commissioner had inquired whether NADRA could issue a certificate that says an individual is a Pakistani citizen and not that of any other country.

"How can NADRA know this? We will look into this matter," the chief election commissioner had said.

After hearing the arguments of both sides, the ECP had reserved its verdict in Vawda’s disqualification case.

The case

Vawda had won the 2018 general election from Karachi's NA-249 constituency.

In January 2020, an investigative report published in The News had revealed that Vawda may have committed perjury by falsely declaring in an oath to the ECP that he did not hold any foreign nationality.

According to the report, Vawda was in possession of a United States passport at the time he filed his nomination papers on June 11, 2018. The minister remained an American national even at the time the scrutiny of his nomination papers were completed.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan in a past judgment has categorically ruled that candidates who hold dual nationality are supposed to submit a renunciation certificate of the foreign nationality along with their nomination papers.

The same judgment has previously led to the disqualification of various lawmakers, notable among whom Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) senators Saadia Abbasi and Haroon Akhtar.