THE government has decided to amend the Constitution to allow dual nationality holders to hold public office. Dual nationality is not an issue; holding public office by individuals who have dual citizenship is.
The majority of Pakistanis who have acquired citizenship of foreign countries are industrious, honest and upright citizens who are living abroad simply to build a better future for their families. They work long and hard hours, often in hostile environments, and send foreign exchange to Pakistan. These individuals are not the problem. They are Pakistan’s pride.
The devious, sinister and corrupt nationals who have fled abroad and obtained refuge in foreign lands are the real problem.
They are the ones who have exploited the country, have ill-gotten, illegal funds and are, in many cases, beholden to forces that are hostile to Pakistan.
They are the ones who aspire for public office in Pakistan. They are the ones who are constantly planning to return, reap another financial bonanza, serve another master and then depart using their second passport as an escape mechanism. For them, ‘dual nationality’ is a ticket which enables them to walk away after playing havoc with our country.
Sadly, nothing can be done to prevent the government from bringing in the 21st Amendment. There are too many vested interests. But we can do the next best thing. We, the citizens of Pakistan, can still ensure that these people with vested interests are prevented from abusing dual nationality privileges while the hardworking, law abiding Pakistanis citizens retain all the privileges of dual nationality.
Let us make sure that as this amendment is incorporated, it is also forced to contain a very expanded and specific oath of office. The person taking the oath for any public office would logically have to declare his dual nationality.
After that he must solemnly affirm, with Allah as his Witness that in the event of any conflict between the demands set forth upon him by Pakistan and those required by his chosen country of citizenship, he openly and without any reservation declares that he will uncompromisingly serve the interests of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
He should further declare that, in the (highly unlikely) event of any overt or covert conflict, military, economic, ideological or other crisis, between Pakistan and his chosen country of citizenship, he will fully, wholeheartedly and unabashedly support and assist all endeavours of Pakistan in any manner whatsoever with complete and absolute disregard for any conflicting demands that may be placed upon him by his chosen country of citizenship.
I hope that my fellow countrymen and women will appreciate the necessity of such an oath and will ensure that if the Constitution is amended, this oath is incorporated in that amendment.
SHAHID KHAN Karachi
YOUR editorial ‘Dual citizenship’ (July 3) suggests that anyone wishing to enjoy the prestige, responsibility and privileges of serving as a Pakistani parliamentarian should be willing to renounce any other citizenship they might have. It is rather a harsh option. Article 63 (1) (c) of the Constitution says, “A person shall be disqualified from being elected or chosen as, and from being, a member of the Majlis-i-Shoora (parliament), if he ceases to be a citizen of Pakistan, or acquires the citizenship of a foreign state.”
Practice though remained to the contrary. The Supreme Court too never took any action. On the one hand, the Supreme Court is allowing them the right to vote, but disqualifying them from holding public office. It’s like they can earn money but cannot spend it.
Until 2008 elections, there was no scrutiny of the ‘dual status’ or ‘nationality’ of election aspirants. If the Election Commission failed to implement the law properly and never robustly restrained or explained through a public awareness campaign, then how come those already elected can be barred, suspended or forbidden from holding offices until properly notified by the election machinery?
Why must they pay for the negligence of the chief election commissioner who failed to apprehend, warn and check while they were contesting? Due process requires a notice, and a choice of either retaining dual nationality or public representation. Those requirements have never been met and the Supreme Court is insisting on changing the ‘goal post’.
One argument that is frequently heard is that the contribution of overseas Pakistanis is such that they must be assimilated through a consultative process where they are heard. Twelve to 13 billion dollars a year in remittances from these eight million souls deserves due recognition. The Supreme Court did not de-seat the president despite his election with Chief Justice Dogar’s court ruling which suspended the constitutional requirement of having a degree to contest.
The Supreme Court alone should not debar eight million people who have never been told not to acquire foreign nationality otherwise they will risk becoming parliamentarians of their homeland. Unless that notice is served and heard, let those people believe that they still belong to their ‘motherland’.