Nirupama Subramanian

ISLAMABAD: The former cricketer and leader of the Opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, Imran Khan, can breathe easy after the Election Commission threw out on Wednesday a petition for his disqualification from the National Assembly on the charge that he fathered a child outside marriage.

The reference was filed by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, a ruling coalition partner, days after Mr. Khan accused MQM leader Altaf Hussain, a British citizen and a resident of London, of masterminding the May 12 Karachi killings and asked the British government to extradite him.

Parliamentary Affairs minister Sher Afghan Niazi supported the reference, and the National Assembly Speaker, finding that it sufficiently made out a case for the disqualification of Mr. Khan, forwarded it to the Election Commission in June.

The MQM filed its reference against Mr. Khan on the basis of Article 62 that states that no person who has been convicted for a crime involving moral turpitude is eligible to enter Parliament.

In order to build its case, the MQM used a paternity suit against the former Pakistan captain by a British heiress, Sita White, that an American court awarded in her favour.

In a brief verdict, a tribunal of the Election Commission including the Chief Election Commissioner, declared the reference was inadmissible.