- Party leader says PTI wants to discourage tendencies among ruling families to turn country’s governance system into a monarchy
The reference filed by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) seeking disqualification of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appears to be more focused on his daughter Maryam Nawaz than the premier himself.
A copy of the reference – filed by petitioner Dr Yasmeen Rashid who vied against Nawaz Sharif from Lahore’s NA-120 constituency – reflects that the reference had been filed under Sections 99, 82, 42-A, 12, of the Representation of the People Act, 1976 read with Articles 62, 63 of the 1973 Constitution, and all other enabling provisions of the Act and the Constitution for disqualification of the respondent for being a member of parliament.
A well-placed source in the PTI defended the move, saying that the objective of the party was to discourage the tendencies among the ruling families about their will to turn the country’s governance system into a monarchy.
“This is a humble effort by the PTI to get the prime minister disqualified for telling lies to the nation and concealing his offshore assets. We have also made Maryam Safdar the focal point in the reference so that when the prime minister is disqualified, the chances of entry of his daughter into parliament may also be blocked,” said the PTI leader, adding, “This reference would block Maryam’s ambitions to become the future prime minister, since she has been working as the de facto prime minister in the absence of Prime Minister Sharif.”
The entire reference is based on the same premise: Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Safdar had concealed their offshore assets.
ASSETS CONCEALMENT BY MARYAM:
“This reference is being made after the release of the Panama Papers, when it became evident that the respondent (Nawaz Sharif) while submitting his nomination papers for the 2013 general elections willfully concealed his assets and the assets and liabilities of his family members, particularly his daughter, Maryam Safdar, who has been declared as dependent of the respondent as per the documents filed with the nomination papers for the 2013 general elections, particularly the documents related to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) [wealth tax returns/statements of the FBR for the year 2011 and 2012],” says the reference.
In compliance with Section 12 sub-section (2) clauses (a), (c), (d), and (f), of the Representation of the People Act, 1976 all contesting candidates are bound to declare their assets and liabilities as well as the assets and liabilities of their spouse and dependants.
“And any concealment of assets or non-declaration of assets and/or liabilities, concerning/related to the candidate or his/her spouse or any of his/her dependent in any manner whatsoever willful or otherwise is substantial violation of the law resulting in disqualification of the returned candidate for being a member of parliament as per Section 99 of the Representation of the People Act, 1976 and Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution,” the reference reads.
The representatives chosen by the people of Pakistan must fulfill the qualifications laid down under Section 99 of the Representation of the People Act, 1976 and under Article 62 (d), (e) and (f) of the Constitution that says “a person shall not be qualified to be elected or chosen as a member of parliament unless, … he is sagacious, righteous, non-profligate, honest and ameen…”.
The interpretation of sagacious, righteous, non-profligate, honest and ameen must be considered very minutely in the prospective of Islamic standards as set by the preamble of the Constitution, and all the members of parliament are presumed to be qualified to fulfill all the above mentioned qualities and immediately loose the right to be a member of parliament, if later it is revealed that there were/are proofs present to the contrary.
The PTI’s reference further states that “it appeared that many offshore companies are also owned by the respondent’s family and his dependant daughter Maryam Safdar. And after going through the nomination papers submitted by the respondent for the 2013 general elections it became evident that the respondent had concealed the money matters relating to him and his dependants particularly his daughter Maryam Safdar, who owned a number of offshore companies. The record, investigation and collection of documentary evidence are in process, therefore the detailed documentary evidence shall be submitted later on by the petitioner or whenever it is required or ordered by this commission”.
Moreover, the concealment of assets and financial discrepancies discovered/appeared/unearthed as per the nomination papers of the respondent filed for the 2013 general elections, as per record of the respondent’s nomination papers for the elections, particularly the wealth statement for tax year 2011, shows land worth Rs 24,851,526 in the name of his daughter Maryam Safdar as his dependent.
The reference points out that the respondent (PM) did not declare assets/liabilities of Maryam Safdar, in declarations filed before the ECP in 2013 even though she was claimed to be a dependent of the respondent in tax year 2011 and tax year 2012.
According to revelations made in the Panama Papers, Maryam Safdar became the sole shareholder of Nescoll in 2006 and a letter to this effect was filed with Mossack Fonseca. She was also co-owner of another BVI company, Coomber Group, through which a loan of £ 3.5m was secured from Deutsche Bank in June 2007. (The documentary evidence of the above mentioned offshore companies is available on the website of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists [ICIJ] and should be considered at the time of evidence).
However, the reference states that there is no disclosure on part of the respondent of any asset abroad in his own name or in the name of any of his dependents.
In his nomination papers, the respondent mentioned the name of his daughter ‘Maryam Safdar’ as his dependent bearing CNIC 25201-5827424-4, on which National Tax Number 1308504-2 was obtained on October 12, 2001, c/o Chaudhry Sugar Mills.
The reference then points out to the admission of Hussain Nawaz (son of the respondent), in a TV interview, claiming that Maryam Safdar was the sole owner of two BVI companies and also the co-owner of another BVI company (Coomber Group) since 2006. Therefore, in view of such admission by the respondent’s son, the respondent was bound to declare these assets as his dependent daughter’s assets in the column number four of his nomination papers but he did not do that deliberately.
Moreover, the reference points out that Maryam Safdar signed loan papers to secure loans from foreign banks. However, no liability was shown by the respondent though she was declared as dependent. “That by non-disclosure of the true and actual state of affairs regarding assets/interests/loans in offshore companies by the dependant daughter Maryam Safdar, the respondent violated the mandatory pre-requisites of Sections 12-(2), 12- (c) & 12-(d) of the Representation of the People Act, 1976. (Being public, details are available on the website of the ICIJ and should be taken into consideration at the time of evidence),” the reference reads.
CONCEALING OF ASSETS BY PM:
The reference also blames Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for concealing his assets. The reference points out that the late father of the respondent, Mian Muhammad Sharif, was the owner of Mayfair Apartments in London, UK, and Hudabiya Paper Mills. After his demise, shares of Hudabiya Paper Mills as well as the shares in London property were inherited by the respondent (the PM). The respondent only declared the shares of Hudabiya Paper Mills as assets in his nomination papers, but concealed the ownership of Mayfair Apartments.
The reference states that the respondent showed liability of Rs 110,000,000 in respect of Ramzan Sugar Mills as of June 30, 2011. The total net wealth declared was Rs 149,398,035 (in 2010 net wealth was shown at Rs 63,737,827). Total expenses were shown at Rs 19,878,706. No information was provided in the expenditure statement as to who was paying expenses of the Raiwind Palace that is owned by mother of the respondent. She has no resources to bear the huge expenses of this residence.
“That the respondent in his nomination papers declared total net wealth as on June 30, 2012 at Rs 261,659,827 and as on June 30, 2011 at Rs 166,049,542 showing accretion of Rs 95,610,542,” the reference points out.
Moreover, the reference says that the respondent and his son-in-law, Muhammad Safdar, in their statements of assets and liabilities as on June 30, 2011 did not declare gift of Rs 31,700,000 in the assets for the year which was the requirement of the law. “The respondent declared his dependent daughter in tax year 2011 and was bound to club all her assets in his wealth statement and husband was bound to declare the same as all assets of spouse were to be shown,” the reference says.
Moreover, the reference says that the respondent contrary to the provisions of Section 116(2) of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 did not file wealth statement with the return of total income. “He did not comply with the law even when pointed out through a note on the acknowledgment slip. In fact, wealth statements for the tax year 2012 and 2011 were filed just before the filing of the nomination papers,” the reference says.
The reference adds that the returning officer did not follow the guidelines and late filing of more than one year was ignored as tax default for applicability of Article 62(1)(d) of the constitution.
The plea further states that the respondent after returning to Pakistan from what he called “exile” filed wealth statements for tax year 2011 and 2012 on March 21 and 22, 2013, respectively. “He did not file statements from 2007 to 2010 to justify increase in assets vis-à-vis wealth statement filed as on June 30, 2007. That there exist lots of questions and doubts why these statements were not filed on time and no action was taken in accordance with law against the respondent, particularly, when the same were filed just before a few days of filing the nomination papers in gross violation of the law. It is pertinent to mention here that such default was required to be noticed by the ECP,” the reference points out. Hence the reference seeks disqualification of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as member of the National Assembly for concealment of assets and misstatement to the ECP.