Lawmakers’ disqualification: PM’s son-in-law questions ECP jurisdiction

ISLAMABAD: Captain (retd) Muhammad Safdar, the prime minister’s son-in-law, has questioned the legal jurisdiction of the top election authority for adjudicating cases of lawmakers’ disqualification.

On Tuesday, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) resumed the hearing of a petition filed by a PTI leader, calling for the disqualification of Safdar from the National Assembly.

After three initial hearings, the case had been pending owing to the incomplete structure of the ECP after its four members retired in June. During the last hearing on July 28 – a day after new members took oath of their office – the ECP had asked Safdar to file his reply on the allegations levelled by PTI’s Nawabzada Salahuddin.

The petitioner had asked the ECP to unseat the son-in-law of PM Nawaz Sharif for not declaring the actual assets of his spouse, Maryam Nawaz, in the annual wealth declaration every elected parliamentarian has to submit with the commission.

Safdar’s counsel Munawar Iqbal instead challenged the ECP’s jurisdiction, prompting strong criticism by the PTI leader’s lawyer.

“The ECP has directed the respondent to file a separate application on the jurisdiction matter but asked him to file a reply by the next hearing at all costs,” Chaudhry Faisal Hussain told reporters after the hearing.

The government, he claimed, was trying to hide behind the technicalities to prolong the case.

Hussain said the election authority in the last hearing had said it would be their final notice to Safdar to file a reply.

The ECP has now fixed the next hearing on August 17, when the body is scheduled to take up similar petitions filed by the PPP, PTI and others against the prime minister himself and his close relatives.

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