SC rejects petition seeking disqualification of Zulfi Bukhari

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— Top court warns Bukhari not to perform functions of a minister

LAHORE: The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a petition seeking the disqualification of Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Zulfi Bukhari.

The decision was made as a three-member bench of the top court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar held a hearing over the petition at the Lahore Registry of the apex court.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court had ruled that those holding dual nationalities could not hold important positions in the government. The ruling stated that such individuals must choose between the post and foreign nationality.

During the hearing on Wednesday, the petitioner argued that the previous ruling applied in the case of Zulfi Bukhari. In response, CJP Nisar observed that SC’s ruling in the case was only a recommendation to the parliament and not a ban.

“You should have challenged the rules of business against Zulfi Bukhari’s appointment,” the top judge remarked.

“The appointment of a special assistant is the prime minister’s right,” Justice Ijazul Ahsan observed.

“Zulfi Bukhari’s case does not come under Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution,” he added.

“Zulfi Bukhari is signing foreign agreements; this is the job of a minister,” argued the petitioner’s legal representative.

“He is working as a minister and even attending cabinet meetings.”

“Who is Zulfi Bukhari and where has he come from – bring the whole summary. How did he write that he is a state minister on his website?” CJP Nisar inquired.

Zulfi Bukhari’s legal counsel Aitzaz Ahsan, in response, rejected the claim, stating that Bukhari “has not claimed the status of a state minister”.

The top judge then remarked that Bukhari cannot be removed from his post on the basis of the petition but the top court can make suggestions to the parliament over the matter.

The petition was then dismissed by the bench but with a warning for Bukhari for claiming the status of a minister.

“If Bukhari used administrative powers, then we will see the matter,” the top judge remarked.

Further, the court also directed relevant authorities to submit a report on Bukhari’s qualifications for the post.

“If appointing his special assistant is the prime minister’s right, it does not mean that he can do whatever he likes,” CJP Nisar observed.

“Show me the summary that was sent to the prime minister and how Bukhari was appointed special adviser,” he further remarked.

In September, PM Imran appointed Zulfi Bukhari as his special assistant on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development.

Earlier this month, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) directed to remove Bukhari’s name from the Exit Control List (ECL).

His name was placed on ECL by the Interior Ministry on August 4 on the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) request.