Should dual nationals be part of the cabinet?

Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the U.K., was a dual national and relinquished it in 2016. He served as Foreign Secretary from 2016 to 2018 and Mayor of London from 2008 to 2016 as dual national. Pakistan needs to learn the values being practiced in the 21st century and accept the fact that professionals may have dual nationalities or permanent residence due to their work routine. It should not make their patriotism questionable

dual nationals

Prime Minister Imran Khan is facing relentless criticism for appointing special assistants holding dual nationalities and permanent residency of other countries despite his stance in the past that such individuals should not run government affairs. Political commentators believe that amidst this heated debate and a campaign against the premier may tarnish the professional integrity of the experts (dual nationals or otherwise) working with PM Khan.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb tweeted that “His [PM Imran] hypocrisy is shameless as his duplicity is destroying a nation. All Imran Khan is missing is a flute”.

Similarly, Pakistan People’s Party’s (PPP) Senator Sherry Rehman pointed out that in the past PM Imran had repeatedly opposed government aides, advisers, and ministers who had sworn an oath of allegiance to another country. “What happened to #MadeinPakistan?” she wrote on Twitter.

Two days ago, the government went public with the assets and nationalities of all 15 special assistants to the prime minister – bringing to light that seven of them were either dual nationals or held another country’s permanent residency.

Read More: “Withhold notifications of senators-elect believed to be dual nationals,” Chief Justice orders ECP

The details of the SAPMs’ assets and nationalities have been put up on the website of the Cabinet Division. Information Minister Shibli Faraz tweeted that the information had been made public on the instruction of Prime Minister Imran Khan. However, it is not clear as to why did the premier order to make these details public. The reason behind this madness is yet to be known.

Dual Nationals: Verdict of the Supreme Court and Declaration of ECP

The Supreme Court of Pakistan ruled back in 2012 that lawmakers holding dual nationalities were not eligible to hold any public offices and declared all such lawmakers as disqualified. The top court had mentioned that the lawmakers were being disqualified under Article 62 and Article 63 of the Constitution.

A three-judge bench led by then Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry disqualified 4 legislators from the National Assembly, 5 from the Punjab Assembly and 2 from the Sindh Assembly back then. The ECP had declared in 2013– while hearing a petition challenging the qualification of Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri to head his party– that dual nationals could not hold any office in a political party.

Under Section 5(1) of the Political Parties Order of 2002: “Every citizen, not being in the service of Pakistan, shall have the right to form or be a member of a political party or be otherwise associated with a political party or take part in political activities or be elected as an office-bearer of a political party, provided that a person shall not be appointed or serve as an office-bearer of a political party if he is not qualified to be, or is disqualified from being elected or chosen as a member of the majlis-i-shoora (parliament) under Article 63 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan or under any other law for the time being in force.”

Read More: Can dual nationals hold public offices in Pakistan?

Moreover, while explaining tax laws, PML-N’s Mohammad Zubair has noted that “a resident Pakistani is one who has lived in Pakistan for more than 6 months. Any period less than 6 months means he/she is a non-resident.  A nonresident still has to file income tax return with FBR but not the wealth statement. Even if there is no income, the return has to be filed – which will show nil income. The resident Pakistani has to file income tax returns as well as wealth statements. In both cases, income, as well as assets, have to be shown on a world basis.”

Dr. Moeed Yusuf; Pakistan’s asset or an American agent?

Some segments of media and a few political commentators are particularly highlighting the case of Dr. Moeed Yusuf, Special Assistants to Prime Minister (SAPM) on National Security and Strategic Policy Planning. SAPM Yusuf holds permanent residency in the US, which, according to him, he is not availing since his return to Pakistan. “I am not availing residency in the USA since I returned to Pakistan, and have not traveled to the USA ever since,” states his hand-written clarification on the form. “Have no employment or income in the US,” he adds.

Dr. Yusuf is a graduate of Boston University. He has been a Research Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University, and a Research Fellow at Strategic and Economic Policy Research, Pakistan.  He has authored Brokering Peace in Nuclear Environments: U.S. Crisis Management in South Asia. He was previously working as vice president of the United States Institute for Peace, for South Asia.

Dr. Yusuf is said to be the few voices in the USA that are taken seriously while formulating America’s South Asian policy. Precisely, he has “acted as an enabler for improved Pak-US dialogue and understanding.”

Read More: Christine Fair Questions Dr. Moeed Yousuf’s Integrity: USIP gives her Shut Up Call

Experts believe that the values of the 21st century should be learned and carefully internalized in order to become an effective member of this modern world. Professionals like Dr. Yusuf have professional integrity and they can work anywhere in the world. The residence should not be something to be used to determine an expert’s patriotism.

In many countries, this is not even a matter of debate whether the professionals or even lawmakers have single or dual nationality. For example, Boris Johnson, prime minister of the U.K., was born in New York City and only recently relinquished his American passport in 2016. Johnson was born in New York when his parents worked there. He was Foreign Secretary from 2016 to 2018 and Mayor of London from 2008 to 2016.

Experts suggest Pakistani lawmakers and public intellectuals to focus on real policy matters, not on trivial issues to develop a populist political discourse for domestic consumption. Pakistan’s government is yet to take effective measures to bring back the laundered money and stop massive corruption to rebuild institutions.

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