ISLAMABAD   -  The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Wednesday submitted its record before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) in a petition seeking disqualification of Federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda for allegedly concealing his US nationality at the time of filing his nomination papers to contest last general elections.

A single bench of IHC comprising Justice Aamer Farooq conducted hearing of the petition filed by a lawyer Mian Faisal Advocate wherein he cited the federal minister, the ECP and others as respondents.

During hearing, the ECP submitted record of the nomination papers provided by Vawda for 2018 General Elections. The ECP’s lawyer told the court that Vawda had even submitted an affidavit saying that he did not hold dual citizenship. Justice Aamer remarked that the federal minister should stop playing hide-and-seek with the court. The IHC bench also made it clear that if the minister’s lawyers do not present his version then the court would decide the matter as per law.

According to the ECP report, the last date to file nomination papers for the elections held on July 2018 was June 8 and later extended for another three days. Taking his documents and evidence, Vawda submitted election papers on the last date June 11, 2018 along with an affidavit wherein he declared himself holding no citizenship other than that of Pakistani. 

It added that the Returning Officer (RO) of NA-249 Karachi, his electoral constituency, approved his nomination papers on June 18, 2018. It was only after this approval that Vawda applied for renunciation of his US nationality in US Consulate Karachi.

Later, the court deferred hearing in this matter till November 12 for further proceedings. In his petition, Faisal stated that Vawda contested the elections from NA-249 (West-II) Karachi in July 2018 on a ticket of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI). 

However, he was a dual national at the time of filing of his nomination papers, concealing his American nationality by falsely declaring on oath before the ECP that “he did not have any foreign nationality”.

The petition, while mentioning documents of Vawda rescinding US nationality, pointed out that the minister was a US citizen at the time of submitting his nomination papers on June 11, 2018, and even during the scrutiny of his nomination papers while the returning officer of his electoral constituency approved his papers on June 18.

The petition maintained, “It was only after this approval that respondent No 1 [Vawda] applied for renunciation of his US nationality at the US Consulate, Karachi, on June 22.” It added that the US Consulate issued the renunciation certificate to Vawda on June 25.

Moreover, the petition stated that Vawda had on June 11, 2018 also submitted an affidavit claiming that he was not a dual national whereas till that time, his foreign nationality was intact.

It mentioned, “It is held in the judgment [of Supreme Court] that if anybody files a false affidavit, it will be considered he is filing the affidavit before the Supreme Court of Pakistan.” It continued that the Supreme Court has in one of its judgments categorically directed that candidates who previously held dual nationalities should have renunciation certificates at the time of filing of nomination papers.

The petitioner maintained that Vawda “contested the election of National Assembly while submitting false declaration and hiding his dual nationality” which makes him “liable to be disqualified under the Constitution and law of the land”.