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The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is likely to put off the hearing in the four disqualification petitions filed against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif until the submission of report by the joint investigation team (JIT) that is to be formed within a week in wake of the orders of the Supreme Court to probe corruption allegations against the PM and his family.

According to an official, the ECP may wait for the report of JIT to resume hearing on pleas filed against disqualification of the Prime Minister.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court ordered setting up of a JIT to probe charges against Prime Minister Sharif in Panamagate case.

On November 2, 2016, the ECP had decided to put off the hearing in the four disqualification petitions against Prime Minister Sharif until decision on similar pleas pending before the Supreme Court. The decision of the ECP was made after the chief election commissioner sought views from various parties whether or not the hearing in disqualification petitions against the Prime Minister should continue, while the Supreme Court was also hearing a case of similar nature.

In ECP hearing, the Prime Minister's counsel Salman Butt was of the view that the ECP should await the decision of the apex court and pointed out that the high courts had suspended the hearing in the cases against Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto in the past when the matters had been taken up by the Supreme Court.

At that point, PPPP leader Latif Khosa pointed out that the PPPP was not party to the case before the Supreme Court and argued that the ECP was the constitutional institution to take up these petitions. He said the Panamagate scandal is a national issue, which would have a far-reaching impact on the country, adding there is no bar on the commission to keep it away from hearing a matter pending before the Supreme Court.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2017

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