ISLAMABAD - The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) yesterday issued notices to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and members of his family asking to submit their replies by September 6 in disqualification references filed by opposition parties including PPP and PTI.

A full ECP bench headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice (r) Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan, after hearing the petitions, directed Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif, Hamza Shahbaz, Ishaq Dar and Captain Safdar to submit their replies by Sept 6.

Five identical petitions which were clubbed together on last hearing have been filed by the Pakistan People’s Party, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), Awami Muslim League (AML), Pakistan Awami Tehreek and an individual petitioner Prof Waheen Kamal.

Four of the petitions targeted only the prime minister, while the one filed by PPP Secretary General Sardar Latif Khosa seeks disqualification of PM Sharif and other members of his family, including Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, his son Hamza Shahbaz, prime minister’s son-in-law Captain retired Mohammad Safdar and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who is the father-in-law of the prime minister’s daughter.

During the hearing, legal counsels representing the prime minister and his family members argued that the Election Commission had no jurisdiction to hear these petitions insisting that the relevant fora for filing such petitions were speakers of the national and provincial assemblies.  

A petition was filed against Captain Safdar, son-in-law of the prime minister, by Nawabzada Salahuddin of the PTI, seeking his disqualification for concealing the assets of his spouse Maryam Nawaz Sharif.

At the previous hearing, Captain Safdar had been ordered to file a written reply to the allegations levelled against him, but his counsel had challenged the ECP’s jurisdiction to hear the petition filed by Nawabzada Salahuddin, who had lost Mansehra’s National Assembly seat to Captain Safdar in the 2013 general elections.

Meanwhile, on a petition seeking disqualification of Sharam Tarakai, a PTI MPA from Swabi district, and his father Senator Liaqat Taraqai, ECP issued notices asking them to submit their replies by September 6. The petition was filed by Awami National Party leader Bushra Gohar.

She alleged in her petition that a senator and two Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly members had submitted false declarations and did not disclose their offshore businesses as unveiled in the Panama Papers.

In the petition filed on May 20, the ANP leader claimed that PTI Senator Liaquat Tarakai, in his annual statement submitted to the ECP, did not mention his overseas company ‘Ambassadors Overseas Limited’, registered in the British Virgin Islands.