ECP disqualifies
Senator Faisal Vawda over
submitting false affidavit

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ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday disqualified PTI Senator Faisal Vawda as a lawmaker over alleged concealment of his dual nationality at the time of contesting the National Assembly election on a Karachi seat in the 2018 general elections.

The ECP also directed Vawda to return within two months the salary and other benefits he had received as a minister and parliamentarian. It also withdrew the notification declaring Vawda’s victory on a Senate seat in polls held last year.

The vote Vawda had cast in the Senate polls held on March 10 as a member of the National Assembly was also “invalid”, according to the short order announced by the chief election commissioner.

PTI Senator Faisal Vawda

The ECP said Vawda had submitted a “false affidavit” with his nomination papers. Disqualification under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution means the PTI leader will not be able to contest elections again, Dawn has reported.

The ECP had reserved its judgement on petitions seeking Vawda’s disqualification on Dec 23 last year. The ECP bench had during the last hearing given Vawda the last chance to defend himself and explain his position.

Speaking to the media outside the ECP office in Islamabad, one of the petitioners, PPP MNA Qadir Khan Mandokhel, said he had been visiting courts for nearly four years in connection with the case. He thanked the PPP leadership for following the case and guiding him throughout.

He termed the ECP’s directive to Vawda to return all benefits he had received as a parliamentarian a “very good precedent”.

“I believe the first [card] of this puppet government has fallen,” he said, adding that when PPP protesters would reach Islamabad during their planned long march next month, the PTI government would be “ousted”.

Reacting to the development, PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari tweeted, “One more PTI wicket down.”

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed denied that the judgement was a “jolt” for the PTI, saying that Vawda would approach the Supreme Court.

“I am hopeful he (Vawda) would exercise his legal right,” he added while speaking to the media in Islamabad.

PTI Senator Faisal Vawda

Later in the day, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry also downplayed the verdict, terming it “not a big thing”.

Talking to reporters in Peshawar, Chaudhry said Vawda would approach the courts against the judgement disqualifying him. “Where is the storm? It has not occurred anywhere.”

Dual nationality

The News reported in January 2020 that Vawda was a dual national at the time of filing his nomination papers to the ECP to contest the 2018 general elections. Vawda submitted his nomination papers on June 11, 2018, which were approved by the election body a week later on June 18, the report said. However, the PTI MNA applied for the renunciation of his nationality with the US consulate at Karachi four days after the fact on June 22, 2018, the report revealed.

Qadir Khan Mandokhel, Mian Faisal and Mian Asif Mehmood subsequently filed petitions in the ECP on January 21, 2020, seeking Vawda’s disqualification. A citizen, Dost Ali, also filed a similar petition in 2020 challenging Vawda’s election as a member of the National Assembly. The petition stated that when Vawda filed his nomination papers for contesting elections, he held dual nationality as he was a US citizen as well.

A petition was also submitted to the Islamabad High Court seeking Vawda’s disqualification. The court had directed the PTI leader to submit a reply.

Despite the issuance of several notices, he did not respond to the petition. In March 2021, Vawda resigned as an MNA on being elected as a senator and his lawyer contended that a dual nationality case against the lawmaker was “not valid now”.

However, the IHC held him responsible for submitting a false affidavit regarding his nationality and directed the ECP to proceed against him under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution that deals with disqualification.

In November, the senator filed a petition with the IHC seeking to stay proceedings of the ECP in his disqualification case but the court rejected the appeal.

During the last hearing, Vawda’s counsel, Barrister Moeed, had submitted the senator’s birth certificate to the ECP, stating that his client was born in California and was a US citizen by birth.

The ECP judgement comes at a time when political temperatures are high in the country and the opposition parties are gearing up for a decisive movement against the present set-up under the PTI, both inside and outside parliament. Political experts believe that the ECP judgement would definitely have an impact on the country’s future political scenario.