SC dismisses petition seeking Zulfi Bukhari’s disqualification

LAHORE: The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a petition seeking the disqualification of Prime Minister's Special Assistant on Overseas Pakistanis Zulfi Bukhari. In September, a petitioner moved the top court against Bukhari’s appointment as the premier’s special assistant on overseas Pakistanis and human resource development as he is a dual national. A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Umar Atta Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan heard the petition at the Supreme Court’s Lahore Registry. During the hearing, the counsel of the petitioner stated, “Bukhari is working as a minister and attends federal cabinet meetings.” The petitioner’s counsel added, “Bukhari is signing foreign agreements which this is the job of a minister.” At this, the chief justice remarked, “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?” To this, Bukhari’s counsel Aitzaz Ahsan told the court, "My client has not claimed the status of a state minister and it is because of him that British Airways is resuming operations to the country." Justice Nisar then said, “It would have been better if you worked to improve Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) instead. What is Bukhari’s qualification? Brave people should be appointed in Naya Pakistan.” "Appointing special assistants may be the prime minister's right but it does not mean that he can do whatever he likes. Show me the summary that was sent to the prime minister and how Bukhari was appointed special adviser,” the top judge added. The chief justice then turned to the petitioner’s counsel and said, “We cannot sack Bukhari on your request but can make suggestions to the Parliament.” At this, the petitioner’s counsel said, “SC’s order on dual national government officials applies to Bukhari.” However, Justice Ahsan said, “The SC order does not apply to him.” The chief justice added, “You have not carefully read the order. We have made recommendations to the Parliament, and have not imposed a ban.” “You should have challenged the rules of business against Bukhari’s appointment. We value overseas Pakistanis and how they participated in collecting funds for the dam fund,” Justice Nisar added. Further, Justice Ahsan in his remarks stated, “The prime minister has the authority to appoint special advisers. Bukhari does not come under Article 62 and Article 63 of the Constitution." To this, Justice Nisar added, “The prime minister has to make decisions regarding appointments of special advisers and it is his job to run the government.” The court then went on a short break, and when the hearing resumed, the court dismissed the petition seeking Bukhari's disqualification and allowed him to continue working as premier’s special assistant on overseas Pakistanis. "If Bukhari uses administrative powers, then we will see the matter," the top judge, however, said.

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