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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Tania Aidrus resigns as SAPM amid backlash on her dual nationality

She attributed her resignation to the criticism leveled against her following the disclosure of her dual citizenship and assets information.

Tania Aidrus, the Special Assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Digital Pakistan, resigned from her post today. She posted a public note and her resignation letter on Twitter. She attributed her resignation to the criticism levied against her following the disclosure of her dual citizenship and assets.

Tania Aidrus claims the objections raised against her from the opposition parties would obstruct the progress of the Digital Pakistani Initiative. Hence, she has resigned from the post in the greater public interest. But the ex-Google executive said she will continue to support Pakistan and the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan in the best possible way.

Last week after the disclosure of their personal assets and nationalities SAPM’s received intense public criticism.

“Criticism levied towards the state as a consequence of my citizenship status is clouding the purpose of Digital Pakistan. In the greater public interest, I have submitted my resignation from the SAPM role. I will continue to serve my country and the PM’s vision to my best ability,” Aidrus tweeted.

Tania Aidrus: resign from post of SAPM

In the resignation letter, Tania Aidrus stated that it has been an honor and a privilege to serve Pakistan.

“I returned to Pakistan with the singular intent to contribute and develop the vision of a Digital Pakistan, a concept which you have always voiced and I share,” she said. She added, “I always was and shall be a Pakistani.”

“I believe the recent discourse in the public sphere about my Canadian nationality, which is a consequence of my birth and not an acquisition of choice, is a distraction to my ability to execute on the long term vision for a Digital Pakistan,” she said in her resignation letter.

“Unfortunately, a Pakistani’s desire to serve Pakistan is clouded by such issues,” the former Google executive remarked.

Read more: Tania Aidrus to lead Pakistan’s Digital Program; Women empowering Pakistan

“I shall continue to serve your vision and Pakistan through initiatives both in the private and public domain, where possible,” she added.

Tania Aidrus: Nationality and assets

Tania Aidrus was among the SAPMs of PM Khan who is a dual national. According to the details, Tania Aidrus holds Canadian and Singaporean nationality. It was the decision of PM Imran Khan was made to make public the nationalities and assets of advisers and special assistants after various anchors agitated on the issue. The information stirred a strong backlash from citizens and opposition parties. They disprove of the dual nationals holding prime posts in the federal government. Moreover, a petition was filed in the Islamabad High Court on Tuesday which sought the removal of dual national advisers and special assistants.

According to the details, Tania Aidrus has four immovable properties outside Pakistan-two in the USA and one each in Singapore and the UK. The properties in the UK and Singapore are on the mortgage. However, she does not have any property in Pakistan. When converted in Pakistani rupees, the worth of her properties equals to Rs452.69 million. Tania Aidrus has an investment in the venture capital worth Rs.12.52 million. She has declared remittances of $95,790 from various foreign bank accounts to Pakistan. Tania Aidrus’s total bank balance worth Rs34.39 million.


Is dual nationality the sole reason for resignation?

According to conflicting media reports, Tania Aidrus was under investigation for the registration of the Digital Pakistan Foundation in Security Exchange Commission Pakistan.

Digital Pakistan Foundation- a non-profit company linked to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Digital Pakistani Initiative was recently registered under SECP. This brought into question the digital initiative of Pakistan for two reasons- the lack of transparency around the source of funding for the foundation and conflict of interest.

Registration of DPF in SECP

The Digital Pakistan Foundation was established to support the Digital Pakistan Initiative. PM Khan had launched DPI in December last year, Tania Aidrus was appointed the head of the DPI. Aidrus was appointed as the Special Assistant to Prime Minister on DPI in February. According to details, the company DPF was registered in SECP in the same month. Tania Aidrus was the board member of the company along with Jahangir Khan Tareen and CEO Careem Mudassir Ilyas Sheikha.

In her statement, Aidrus had said that “There is absolutely no issue with an SAPM being on the board of a not-for-profit company. It’s important to remember that this is not a private limited company and the same sector would only be an issue when the company is a profit-making entity.”

She said that the purpose of the foundation was to provide free-of-cost assistance to the digital initiatives in Pakistan.

“As such, the foundation does not intend to take any payments from the government. The foundation does not intend to increase the burden on the government, rather looks to alleviate it by raising funding from external donors via grants, not loans,” she said.

Hence, the reports assert Prime Minister Imran Khan asked Tania Aidrus to resign after she failed to give a satisfactory answer on the registration and her link to the foundation. Also, it claims that PM Khan had no information about the establishment and registration of the Digital Pakistan Foundation.

During her post of the SAPM on Digital Pakistan Initiative, she played a crucial role in the establishment of National Command and Operational Centre-a federal institution monitoring and managing the health emergency of pandemic coronavirus across Pakistan.