ISLAMABAD, June 21: Making it clear that dual nationals cannot be part of assemblies, the Supreme Court observed on Thursday that foreign nationals could not be allowed to have direct access to country’s nuclear programme and other state secrets.
“If dual nationals are allowed to enter assemblies, imported prime ministers will come to power and rule over us,” Chief Justice iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry remarked.
He was heading a bench hearing a case pertaining to lawmakers holding dual nationality. Other members of the bench were Khilji Arif Hussain and Jawad S. Khwaja.
The petitioner, Advocate Waheed Anjum, had accused as many as 14 lawmakers belonging to PPP, PML-N and MQM of holding foreign passports despite a clear bar in the Constitution on dual nationality holders from becoming a lawmaker.
The chief justice also made it clear that the Constitution could not be amended for a few individuals.
“The Constitution cannot be negated due to international law either,” the chief justice said.
Advocate Waheed Anjum submitted in the court photo copies of American passports of Chaudhry Zahid Iqbal, MNA, and Tariq Mehmood Aliona, Member of the Punjab Assembly (both from PPP); and a copy of the British passport of Farhat Muhammad Khan, an MQM MNA. The parliamentarians with dual nationality, however, claimed that they were loyal to Pakistan.
Senator Wasim Sajjad, the counsel for MNA Farah Naz Ispahani, who holds citizenship of both Pakistan and the US, argued that it was unrealistic to question someone’s loyalty on the basis of nationalities they held and to suspend their membership.
He also asked as to why there was no such restriction on positions like that of the Auditor General of Pakistan and the chief justice and judges of the high courts of the country.
Justice Khilji Arif Hussain said that high court judges never sat in the defence committee meetings nor had they any direct access to Kahuta nuclear facility.
Mr Wasim Sajjad said that high court judges were authorised to suspend a prime minister and could also seek records of sensitive meetings of the defence and parliamentary committees.
He was of the view that such interpretation by the court would affect a number of overseas Pakistanis.
The chief justice said the law allowed citizens to hold dual nationality, but did not extend the concession to lawmakers. Justice Jawad S. Khwaja observed that overseas Pakistanis helped the country by sending remittances of around $13 billion every year.
Nobody was present in the court to represent Farhat Mehmood, Nadia Gabol and Dr Ashraf, who are among the lawmakers holding dual nationality. The chief justice took a strong notice of this and said members were not turning up despite notices.
“We will ask the Election Commission to issue a notification like the one it issued a few days ago,” he said, in a clear reference to the notification de-notifying Yousuf Raza Gilani as member of the National Assembly.
Mansoor Alam, appearing before the court as counsel for Rehman Malik, said that since his client’s British lawyer was currently in Spain, the evidence of renunciation of his British nationality could not be obtained. Mr Mansoor Alam will complete his arguments on June 25 (Monday), the next date of hearing.