ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Thursday said Interior Minister Rahman Malek, a key aide to the president, should lose his senate seat for making a false statement in election papers.
It is the second time in three months the court has ruled against Malek, a senior member of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) seen by many as President Asif Ali Zardari’s right-hand man, and the latest round in a long-running tussle between the government and the judiciary.
Some government members have accused judges of overreaching their authority and trying to bring down the coalition before it becomes the first elected administration in Pakistan’s history to complete a full five-year term.
The court also disqualified four MPs — two from the PPP — and seven provincial assembly members on Thursday for holding dual nationality.
The constitution bars elected politicians from holding citizenship of any country other than Pakistan.
Malek was forced to step down from parliament in June after the Supreme Court suspended him for running for office while still a British national.
He then won his seat back in a by-election after producing a letter from the British government acknowledging that he had renounced his British nationality.
But the court said on Thursday that Malek was not fit to hold office because he had made a false statement in nomination papers in 2008 when he said there was nothing to bar him from office, as there was no proof he had surrendered British nationality before May 2012.
“Mr A. Rehman Malek, in view of the false declaration filed by him at the time of contesting the election to the Senate held in the year 2008... cannot be considered sagacious, righteous [and] honest,” Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry said in the ruling.
Chaudhry referred the matter to the chairman of the senate, who will decide whether to unseat Malek, and ordered the Election Commission to begin legal proceedings against him over the false declaration.
According to Dawn newspaper the lawmakers who have been disqualified include Zahid Iqbal, Farahnaz Ispahani, Mohammad Ikhlaq, Ashraf Chauhan, Nadia Gabol, Amina Buttar, Zaheer Awan, Waseem Qadir, Farhat Mohammad Khan, Chaudhry Nadeem Khadim and Ahmad Ali Shah.
The court directed the government to withdraw the amount spent on salaries and perks from disqualified lawmakers and deposit it in the national treasury.