Trouble is in the ranks for current National and Provincial Assembly members Asad Qaiser and Mushtaq Ghani, respectively, as a Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Service Tribunal finds the two guilty of misuse of authority. Qaiser was the Speaker for the KP Assembly from 2013-2018, and Ghani is the current KP Assembly Speaker. Both are accused of abusing their position as Speaker of the KP Assembly to make illegal appointments.

The controversy was born in 2017, when Kifayatullah Khan was rejected for the position of secretary provincial assembly despite seniority. Instead, the then Provincial Assembly speaker and current National Assembly speaker, Asad Qaiser, gave the position of secretary to Nasrullah Khan, an officer who was much junior to Kifayatullah Khan. According to Kifayatullah’s petition in front of the tribunal, the position of the secretary provincial assembly is allocated based solely on seniority; thus choosing someone in a junior position over a senior officer would make the appointment in disregard to criteria for promotion laid down in Service Rules of the Provincial Assembly notified on Sept 25, 2007.

The law is on Kifayatullah’s side- the KP tribunal harshly worded the verdict against the former and current speakers of the KP Assembly. The judgment stated that “the appellant became a victim of favouritism, nepotism and unholy alliance of DPC to accommodate their blue-eyed chap by hook or crook.”

What does this mean for the PTI members? Action against nepotism and favouritism has been a rallying cry for the party- PTI leaders have often been heard castigating its opposition for giving out official positions to family members and friends, and has stressed that in its governance, merit will be prioritised. Such a revelation, which has endured the test of law under a PTI provincial government, is not likely to be taken lightly by the PTI Chief.

Is there room for appeal? It is probable that the Respondents will appeal the decision to the appropriate tribunal which hears appeals. However, they have limited grounds to do so- it is undeniable that Kifayatullah has seniority over Nasrullah, and Nasrullah’s appointment breaks the applicable rules of seniority. The only argument that Qaiser and Ghani can argue infront of the Court is that Kifayatullah was disregarded on some valid external grounds. Even then, the damage is done and it is doubtful whether the reputation of the former and current speakers is salvageable.