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May 11, 2019

Women MPs striving to knock out their rivals technically

National

May 11, 2019



ISLAMABAD: It is just tit for tat--two ruling party women MPs, facing a disqualification challenge from their rivals, have called into question in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the appointment of Maryam Nawaz as a vice president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

Parliamentary Secretary on Law and Justice Maleeka Bokhari and Parliamentary Secretary on Planning Kanwal Shahzab are two of the four Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmakers, the two others being Javeria Zafar and Farrukh Habib, who have sought the intervention of the ECP to get Maryam stripped of the party office.

On April 18, two women leaders of the PML-N approached the Islamabad High Court (IHC) seeking disqualification of Maleeka Bokhari, Kanwal Shauzab and Tashfeen Safdar under articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution. Shaista Pervez Malik filed a petition against Kanwal Shauzab while Begum Tahira Bokhari submitted the plea against Maleeka Bokhari.

Three weeks later, Maleeka Bokhari and Kanwal Shauzab, giving tit for tat, knocked at the doors of the ECP asking for Maryam Nawaz’s removal from the PML-N slot that she has been given for the first time although she has been politically active since long. Her nomination is being interpreted as her steady ascendance in the PML-N as well as politics, according to a plan.

Promptly after her induction in the PML-N’s central hierarchy, PTI Vice Chairman and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi severely took exception to it saying that her appointment is violation of a Supreme Court judgement. He harped on rejection of Maryam’s slot for a couple of days quickly provoking some to state that while speaking about his actual target was his party adversary Jehangir Tareen,

who is also confronted with lifelong disqualification. With the passage of time, Tareen has gained immense power in the government because of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s complete confidence in him.

Despite taking the lead in speaking against Maryam’s office, Qureshi was not among the petitioners, who have gone to the ECP against her elevation. The PTI lawmakers have claimed in their petition that Maryam’s appointment as the vice president is in conflict with the Constitution and law. It also covered the legal basis under which she, according to it, is ineligible to hold public office and included a detailed mention of court decisions.

In July 2018, an accountability court sentenced Maryam to seven years for abetment after she was found "instrumental in concealment of the properties of her father" and one year for non-cooperation with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). However, the IHC suspended the judgment. In January, the Supreme Court upheld this IHC verdict.

The petition said that the accountability court declared her disqualified for public office and that a party position is not in private capacity. The PML-N leaders’ petitions in the IHC against PTI women lawmakers pleaded that these legislators did not meet the criteria to hold membership of the Parliament under Articles 62 and 63 as they hid information in their nomination papers.

Maleeka Bokhari should be declared ineligible for possessing dual-nationality whereas Kanwal Shauzab should be adjudged disqualified for providing wrong information to the ECP, the pleas said.

Begum Tahira Bokhari argued that Maleeka Bokhari had sworn and submitted a false affidavit with her nomination papers to the returning officer and established her as not righteous and faithful. Hence she is not qualified under the Constitution. The petitioner alleged that Maleeka Bokhari concealed that she was a dual citizen at the time filing her nomination papers. The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) authenticated that she was a dual citizen on the date of the submission of the candidacy documents.

It was alleged against Kanwal Shauzab that when she contested the Senate election in 2018, she, in her nomination papers, claimed to be resident of Sector I-8/4, Islamabad. The vote certificate she produced showed that her name was entered at Sr No. 420 in the electoral roll of the federal capital. She lost that election. After that she submitted her nomination papers for the National Assembly from Punjab seat on June 7, 2018. The returning officer discovered discrepancies in her papers, finding that they were liable to be rejected. She then filed a petition next day before the IHC concealing certain facts and submitting a false certificate.

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