Pakistani court bans foreign minister from holding office
Iran Press TV
Thu Apr 26, 2018 01:43PM
A Pakistani court on Thursday disqualified Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif from holding office, dealing a blow to the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party (PML-N).
A three-member special bench of the Islamabad High Court on Thursday found Asif guilty of failing to declare several work permits and hiding assets in the UAE, a violation of Pakistan's election laws. The bench also stated that Asif was not qualified to contest polls in 2013.
"We declare that the respondent was not qualified to contest the General Election of 2013," read the court's ruling, referring to the country's last nationwide polls.
Usman Dar, a rival politician from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, had filed a petition against Asif to have him disqualified over concealing assets abroad.
"After today there is no place left for Khawaja Asif in Pakistan's politics," Dar told reporters outside the court.
Meanwhile, local media reports said Asif, a close ally of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, plans to appeal to the country's Supreme Court.
Asif was among the names tipped to replace Sharif when the veteran leader was removed from office by the court over corruption charges and an undeclared source of income last year.
Sharif was the 15th prime minister in Pakistan's 70-year history to have been ousted before completing a full term. He had previously served twice as prime minister and each time been ousted from office – in 1999 by a military coup and in 1993 by a presidential order.
The Sharif clan and their supporters have repeatedly denied allegations of corruption, suggesting the three-time premier is the victim of a conspiracy driven by Pakistan's powerful military establishment.
In recent months, Nawaz and his daughter Maryam have waged a rhetorical war against the nation's judiciary and the military.
The latest ruling comes months ahead of expected general elections, which will pit the PML-N against its main rival, the PTI led by former cricket star Imran Khan.
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