ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's top court on Friday revoked a lifetime ban on a politician that barred him from contesting elections after he tendered an “unconditional apology” in a dual nationality case against him, local media reported.
Faisal Vawda, a member of former prime minister Imran Khan's party, was disqualified in February by Pakistan's election oversight body for concealing his US citizenship in his nomination papers for election on a National Assembly seat.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had observed that Vawda was not "an eligible/qualified person" under articles 62(1)(f) and 63(1)(c) of the Constitution, which relate to a lawmaker being "honest" and "truthful," and being a foreign national, respectively.
Vawda had later challenged his disqualification in the apex court, which summoned the disqualified lawmaker on Friday to give him a chance to express his regret for misstating his dual nationality before the court.
In the order issued today, the apex court bench, led by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, observed that Vawda stated before the court that he “regrets” the claim of renunciation of his US nationality in his nomination papers for election in Karachi’s NA-249 constituency, for which he had submitted his nomination papers on June 11, 2018.
“He states he had already applied for such renunciation before the date of filing the nomination [papers],” Pakistan's Dawn newspaper reported, citing the court order.
"His certificate for the loss of US nationality was issued to him on June 25, 2018."
Vawda stated before the court that he was tendering an “unconditional apology” and that he did not intend to give a false statement and would accept the court’s decision.
According to article 62(1)(f), a person shall not be qualified to be elected or chosen as a member of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) unless “he is sagacious, righteous, non-profligate, honest and ameen, there being no declaration to the contrary by a court of law.”
Article 63(1)(c) says a person will be disqualified from being elected or chosen as member of parliament if "he ceases to be a citizen of Pakistan, or acquires the citizenship of a foreign State."
Subsequently, the court observed in its order: “He (Vawda) regrets and accepts that he stands disqualified from the term of the assembly until 2023.”
In March 2021, Vawda had also resigned from his National Assembly membership after he became a senator.
The court order said although Vawda was elected as a senator in 2021, in order to demonstrate good faith, he was resigning from the Senate seat until the period of his disqualification expires, according to the Dawn report.
The court directed Vawda to submit his resignation to the Senate chairperson and concluded that he was qualified to contest the next general or Senate elections.