- A five-member bench, headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan Raja, announces verdict
- ECP says former PM submitted false affidavit and was found to be involved in corrupt practices
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) disqualified on Friday former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan in the Toshakhana disqualification reference, Aaj News reported.
A five-member ECP bench headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja and comprising Nisar Durrani, Shah Muhammad Jatoi, Babar Bharwana, and former Justice Ikramullah Khan announced the verdict.
The ECP has disqualified the PTI chief under Article 63(1)(p), which says that an individual is, “for the time being, disqualified from being elected or chosen as a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (parliament) or of a provincial assembly under any law for the time being in force”.
The former PM has been de-seated as a member of the NA and by-polls will now be held on the seat vacated following his disqualification.
The ECP said that the former PM submitted a false affidavit and was found to be involved in corrupt practices. The verdict says the respondent had “intentionally and deliberately” violated the provisions contained [in] sections 137, 167 and 173 of the Elections Act, 2017".
As per the verdict, criminal proceedings will be initiated against Imran for misdeclaration. The ECP also ruled that office is directed to initiate legal proceedings and to take follow-up action under Section 190(2) of the Elections Act, 2017.
In a tweet, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif stated that “the Election Commission did justice in the Toshakhana reference.”
He added that the nation “has seen that the post of prime minister was made a source of personal income through corrupt practices.”
The notion of "honesty and trust" has been shattered. Instead of fighting the law, shooting and rioting, people should bow before the law. No one is above the law, the PM said.
After the foreign funding was proven, Imran Niazi has also been declared a traitor today," tweeted PML-N leader Hamza Shehbaz.
"Today's decision has raised the voice of law and justice in the country," he said.
PTI leader Asad Umar took to Twitter and said that the decision will be challenged in court.
PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry spoke to the media outside the ECP, asking the public to come out of their homes for their rights, adding that “today is the beginning of the revolution”.
“Not just anyone cannot disqualify Imran Khan. Only the public can do that,” Chaudhry said.
Meanwhile, PTI leader Shafqat Mahmood termed it a black day, saying that it was a "condemnable decision by ECP to disqualify Imran Khan".
"History will remember this commission as anti-people and a handmaiden of looters and plunderers. Black day for Pakistan," he tweeted.
PTI’s Babar Awan said the decision against Imran Khan is unconstitutional and an attack on the foundation of Pakistan.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Vice-President Maryam Nawaz also took to Twitter and said that "Pakistan's first certified liar was disqualified with irrefutable evidence of theft."
"As big as the theft is, the punishment should not end only with disqualification. He should be arrested and brought before the law and the looted money should be recovered," Maryam said.
"He who would spread lies about alleged corruption of his political opponents has been caught red handed," Foreign Minister and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto tweeted.
Earlier, the ECP approached Islamabad Police for the provision of security to “avoid any untoward incident”. Following the decision by the ECP, gunshots were heard outside the commission.
"A heavy contingent of FC has been deployed at various places in the city. Joint patrolling of Islamabad Police and Rangers has been started," Islamabad Police tweeted.
Moreover, PTI workers have blocked the road at Faizabad, the juncture of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. The Islamabad Police used tear gas shells at protesters to disperse them.
PTI workers have also blocked Murree Road with burning tyres
There were also reports of protests in Lahore, Peshawar and Karachi.
Toshakhana is a department under the administrative control of the Cabinet Division and stores precious gifts given to rulers, parliamentarians, bureaucrats, and officials by heads of other governments and states and foreign dignitaries.
The ECP had reserved its verdict in the case, moved by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), seeking the disqualification of Imran for alleged foul play related to Toshakhana gifts on September 20.
The reference was filed in August against Imran by the government, for “not sharing details” of Toshakhana gifts and proceeds from their alleged sale.
In his 60-page reply submitted to the ECP last month, through his counsel and PTI Senator Barrister Ali Zafar, Khan strongly rejected any foul play in receiving Toshakhana gifts, dubbing the case against him as “misleading” and “false.”
Khan, in the reply, disclosed that some 329 official gifts were received when the PTI was in the federal government. He further stated that out of these gifts, 58 were received by him and his wife, and only 14 of these gifts were valued at more than 14,000 rupees each.
The former PM further maintained that all the details of the gifts he lawfully bought from Toshakhana were duly declared at the relevant forums including the tax returns (filed with the Federal Board of Revenue) and the wealth statements (filed with the ECP).
Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution of Pakistan provides that a person shall not be qualified to be elected or chosen as a member of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) unless he is “sagacious, righteous and non-profligate and honest and Ameen.