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February 15, 2021

Issue of dual nationality: Affidavit to haunt Vawda even after election as senator

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February 15, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The charge of submitting a false affidavit about his alleged dual nationality at the time of filing his nomination papers for a National Assembly seat in Karachi will continue to haunt federal minister Faisal Vawda even after his election as senator.

Vawda is simultaneously facing disqualification proceedings in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for not having renounced his dual citizenship before filing his candidacy papers for the 2018 general elections.

“There are two possibilities as to what the IHC could do in dealing with the petition pending against Vawda seeking his ineligibility,” eminent constitutional expert and former Senate Chairman Wasim Sajjad told The News. One option before the IHC, he said, will be to argue, following the minister’s resignation as MNA after he is elected senator, that since Vawda is no more an MNA, the issue of his deceitful affidavit relating to dual nationality does not exist and the petition against him cannot now be heard.

The second possibility, Wasim Sajjad believes, is that the IHC will rule that the issue is alive and it has to be adjudicated upon because the veracity of the affidavit has not been settled as a result of his resignation as an MNA

However, Sajjad pointed out, even if the IHC disposed of the petition on the grounds that there is no need to proceed further as Vawda is no longer an MNA, the matter can be raised again against him on the premise that he is not ‘Sadiq’ and ‘Ameen’ because he had once filed a false affidavit.

Another prominent constitutional lawyer, Kamran Murtaza, is of the view that the proceedings in the IHC and ECP would become infructuous after Vawda informs them that he has stepped down as an MNA. “The two constitutional forums may say that the matter is no more entertainable after Vawda quits as MNA,” he said, adding that it is an open secret that the minister is contesting the Senate election to frustrate the disqualification proceedings in the IHC and ECP.

Kamran Murtaza said the issue of the concealment of his dual nationality at the time of filing nomination papers for the National Assembly seat would continue to haunt Vawda even after his election as senator.

He stated that the matter that Vawda allegedly lied on oath would not die down even if the IHC declares the petition infructuous. “Vawda will continue to be confronted with the risk of disqualification under the Constitution for not being sadiq and ameen because of the allegedly dubious sworn statement.”

The issue of the false affidavit, he said, can be pursued in litigation against Vawda through a fresh petition. However, he pointed out that such proceedings would be extremely long-drawn-out.

Yet another noted lawyer Kashif Malik told The News that the issue of the 2018 affidavit would not simply go away and Vawda’s opponents can raise it in a court of law even after his election as senator.

He said the ongoing proceedings in the IHC and ECP might be declared unnecessary after Vawda is elected as senator. In case his election as a member of the upper house is challenged on the basis of his affadivit, Vawda could plead that there was no court declaration against him in this connection when he had submitted his nomination papers for the Senate polls, that he met all the constitutionally mandated qualifications and it has not been established that he lied in his affidavit.

About the conduct of a litigant designed to frustrate judicial proceedings, Kashif Malik said it was between the court and the party [Vawda] to see if the efforts of the defendant were intended to thwart the judicial process.