LAHORE - The Lahore High Court Thursday set aside decision of an appellate tribunal wherein former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was disqualified for life for not being “Sadiq” (truthful) and “Ameen”  (honest) under Article 62 of the Constitution.

A division bench headed by Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi passed the order on petition moved by the former prime minister challenging his disqualification to contest general election. The same bench also set aside tribunal’s decision regarding disqualification of PTI’s spokesperson Fawad Chaudhary, and allowed him to contest election from NA-67, Jhelum. 

An appellate tribunal comprising Justice Ibadur Rehman Lodhi at Rawalpindi seat of the high court had rejected the nomination papers of Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and declared him guilty of concealment of facts.

The division bench led by Justice Naqvi had earlier suspended decision of the election tribunal and allowed Abbasi to contest election from NA-57, his home constituency, Murree. However, on Thursday, the bench announced the final verdict wherein it let Abbasi and Fawad contest election.

Abbasi through his counsel told the bench that he had invested Rs1 million in Murree’s Blue Pines Hotel. He said he provided complete information as required by the nomination papers but despite all that, the tribunal rejected his nomination papers and disqualified him for life. He said the tribunal acted beyond its jurisdiction by permanently declaring him disqualified to be a member of the parliament.  The bench, however, posed some queries to Abbasi about his assets including possession of AirBlue airline, stocks and shares in other companies.  The RO also appeared before the court in compliance of the court orders and submitted reply to the court in the judge’s chamber.

The former premier prayed to the high court  to set aside decision of his disqualification and allow him to contest general election. After hearing arguments of both sides, the bench allowed his petition.

Later, talking to the reporters, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said his party would contest general election but the public should be given free right to decide its fate.  He  said he was very hopeful about victory of PML-N.

“We’ll contest election, and inshaAlla , they’ll be victorious,” said Abbasi adding that “his party leadership was running an effective campaign,”.  He wished free and fair election in the country by urging all the state institutions to remain in their limits.

“Interference was made in the past in general elections,” Abbasi said, adding that “ the elections should not be made controversial for the sake of country,”.

Abbasi stated conspiracies were being made public and he prayed to God for free and fair election in the country.  To a query about Nawaz Sharif’s stay in London, he said his party leader would definitely come back to Pakistan as soon as his wife, Begum Kulsoom's medical condition improved.

He said Nawaz Sharif’s absence was being felt in election campaigns but they were determined to run it with full passion and dedication to win the election.  When asked about their possible reaction over accountability court’s decision in Avenfield case against Sharif family, Abbasi said they would go to the court to personally hear the verdict.  Another division bench headed by Justice Shams Mehmood Mirza disqualified PTI candidate Asif Tauseef from contesting election from NA-105. Hanif Jutt, the objector,  had moved petition against his candidature, pleading that the retuning officer and election tribunal accepted Asif’s nomination papers despite  that he had not declared loans borrowed from different banks in the names of his wide and dependants.