(Halatihazira) Election Commission of Pakistan on Friday disqualified PTI chairman Imran Khan in Toshakhana reference under Article 63(1)(p) for making “false statements and incorrect declaration”, triggering protests in various cities.

Imran’s lawyer Gohar Khan said the ruling will be challenged in Islamabad high court “right now”

The decision against the PTI chairman comes as a big blow to the party which a few days ago won big in by-polls across the country, following up on its resounding victory in the July by-elections in Punjab — both seen as indicators of public support for the ousted former premier.

Hence, he attracts disqualification under Article 63(1)(p) of the Constitution read with sections 137 and 173 of the Elections Act, 2017, it added.

The ECP ruling follows up by saying based on the abovementioned findings, facts available on record, and keeping in view the argument of learned counsel for parties herein, “we are of the considered opinion that the respondent has become disqualified under Article 63(1)(p) of the Constitution read with Section 137,167 and 173 of the Elections Act, 2017, consequently he ceases to be a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan and his seat has become vacant accordingly”.

ECP has disqualified Imran Khan
Massive shelling by Police to stop protestants

The ruling said as the respondent “has made false statements and incorrect declaration”, therefore he has also committed the “offense of corrupt practices” defined under sections 167 and 173 of the Elections Act, 2017, punishable under Section 174 of the Elections Act, 2017.

“The office is directed to initiate legal proceedings and to take follow-up action under Section 190(2) of the Elections Act, 2017,” the verdict added.

Article 63 (1) (p) of the Constitution states that an individual is, “for the time being, disqualified from being elected or chosen as a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) or of a provincial assembly under any law for the time being in force”.

Ambiguity over disqualification

Legal experts had widely interpreted this as Imran being disqualified till the end of the current National Assembly (NA) term.

As such, he has been de-seated as a member of the NA and by-polls could be held on the seat vacated following his disqualification.

However, one of Imran Khan’s lawyers, Gohar Khan told AFP that the ECP “has declared Imran Khan was involved in corrupt practices”, adding he had been disqualified for five years.

“We are going to challenge it in the Islamabad High Court right now.”

PTI leader Asad Umar also tweeted that the decision would be challenged in the courts as a “minus Imran would always remain a distant dream”.

Barrister Asad Rahim Khan told Dawn.com that it would be premature to comment without reading the order, given the current ambiguity around what provision Imran Khan was disqualified under.

“It is nonetheless a silly verdict — it would have been rendered meaningless under Article 62(1)(f), as the ECP isn’t a court of law,” he said.

“Left to the even more limited parameters of Article 63, the ECP’s decision can only be justified as part of the absurd sequence of events this country has seen since March, rather than any concrete reasoning of law.”

The Hashtag #عمران_خان_ہماری_ریڈ_لائن is trending now at the top of Twitter. The people of Pakistan will never accept this decision. People are on road and protesting against the decision as they think the decision was just taken to subtract Imran Khan.