Pakistan election commission admits petition challenging Maryam's PML-N vice president appointment

Islamabad, PakistanUpdated: May 27, 2019, 05:36 PM IST

File photo: Maryam Nawaz Photograph:(ANI)

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The petition filed by members of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was heard by a three-member bench headed by the chief election commissioner.

Pakistan's election commission on Monday admitted a petition challenging the appointment of Maryam Nawaz, the daughter of ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, as a PML-N vice president on grounds that she is ineligible to hold a public office.

The petition filed by members of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was heard by a three-member bench headed by the chief election commissioner, during which the bench issued a notice to Maryam seeking her reply. 

The commission has fixed the hearing of the petition for June 17, Dawn newspaper reported.

On May 3, PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif approved major changes to the party's structure, including Maryam's appointment as vice president of the party among a list of 16 vice presidents for the first time.

The petition argues that 45-year-old Maryam's appointment as a vice president of the PML-N is in conflict with the law and Constitution. It also covers the legal basis under which Maryam is ineligible to hold public office and includes a detailed mention of court decisions. 

The PTI counsel in the hearing argued that an accountability court had declared Maryam to be a criminal in July 2018, adding that on September 19 that year, the Islamabad High Court had not dismissed her sentence.

Maryam, along with her husband Captain (retd) Muhammad Safdar and her father and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, was sentenced by an accountability court on corruption charges in Avenfield corruption case in June last year. The case is related to the purchase of four flats by the Sharif family in Avenfield House, Park Lane, London.

While Maryam was sentenced to seven years, her father was awarded a 10-year jail term. Safdar was given a one-year prison sentence. In September last year, the Islamabad High Court suspended the sentence of the trio. 

The chief election commissioner pointed out that the suspension of a sentence doesn't mean that a trial court sentence has been removed.

The petitioners' counsel maintained that Maryam cannot retain the position as vice president, and added that after the accountability court's decision, the Supreme Court had also declared that she was ineligible to hold his party position, the newspaper reported.

While speaking to media after the hearing, one of the petitioners, Maleeka Ali Bokhari, said: "It will be a denial of the democratic system of Pakistan if Maryam remains a vice president of PML-N."

"We are hopeful that we will be successful, and remove Maryam from the party position," Bukhari said, adding that this way the democratic system would be strengthened.