Khawaja Muhammad Asif
was removed from his post by a court Thursday, as a clash between the elected government and the judiciary further jolted Pakistan’s shaky democracy.
The judgment against Mr. Asif, by the Islamabad High Court, follows last year’s disqualification of then Prime Minister
by the Supreme Court. In both cases, the judges found these lawmakers didn’t meet a constitutional provision that requires them to be “honest.” Both hadn’t declared employment ties to companies in the United Arab Emirates in filings with the election authorities when standing in past elections, the courts found.
Mr. Sharif told The Wall Street Journal this week that he was the victim of a “judicial vendetta.” Mr. Sharif’s party believes that the country’s powerful military is working with the activist judiciary against a government that sought to rein in the armed forces, which have ruled Pakistan for nearly half its history. The military and the judiciary deny the charge and say that they are working within the constitution.
Mr. Asif, who denies the allegations of inadequate disclosure of his business interests, said he would appeal the verdict. Mr. Asif, who has been critical of the military in the past, is a close aide of Mr. Sharif and a stalwart of his Pakistan Muslim League-N ruling party. Mr. Asif also served as defense minister and minister for water and power in this government, before becoming foreign minister last year.
“I have never hidden anything,” Mr. Asif said told a Pakistani television channel. “They [the court] have attempted to finish my politics forever.”
Mr. Sharif is now on trial for corruption over his family’s ownership of four apartments in London. The trial is due to conclude next month. He denies the charge. Pakistan is scheduled to hold a general election this summer, which he believes the military is trying to tilt against his party. Mr. Sharif, who has been holding rallies across the country against his ousting as prime minister, has managed to largely keep his party together so far against expectations.
“Those who cannot be defeated in the electoral field are being disqualified in a fixed match,” said
daughter and political heir of Mr. Sharif, on Twitter. She faces the same charge as her father in the corruption trial. She also denies the allegations.
The case against Mr. Asif was brought by the opposition party led by former cricketer
which is expected to be the main challenger in the election. Mr. Khan also brought the case that led to Mr. Sharif’s disqualification and says his aim is to free Pakistan of corruption.
Write to Saeed Shah at [email protected]
Source : WSJ