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Thursday, February 15, 2024

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

News Desk |

The Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to withhold the victory notifications of four senators-elect suspected of being “dual nationals”.

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar was hearing a suo motu case concerning civil servants holding dual nationality on Monday when he asked how many senators were dual nationals.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) Chaudhry Sarwar, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s sister Sadia Abbasi, and the PML-N’s Nuzhat Sadiq and Haroon Akhtar possessed dual nationality, the attorney general (AG) then told the court.

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On that, the court issued notices to all fours senators-elect to clarify their positions before the court, and it also ordered the ECP to withhold their notifications.

Moreover, a report was submitted to the top court regarding the dual nationalities of civil servants. There are as many as 115 civil servants in the country who are currently holding dual citizenships. There are 64 civil servants in Punjab, five in Sindh, nine in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), 28 in Azad Kashmir, eight in Balochistan, and one in Gilgit Baltistan (GB) with dual nationalities, read the report.

PTI’s response

PTI’s Chaudhry Sarwar, who managed to win the Senate election on PTI’s ticket, clarified that he gave up British nationality when he became the Punjab governor in 2013. He further said that allegations regarding his dual nationality are “baseless”.

He took to Twitter and said: “Absolute baseless allegations circulating on the media that I am a dual national. I gave up my British nationality when I became the Governor of Punjab in 2013. I am now a Pakistani passport holder only.”

Furthermore, PTI’s media cell released a statement and clarified Sarwar’s position. It also expressed reservation over what the AGP has stated before the court.

“It is the legal and ethical responsibility of the attorney general to check his facts before recording statements in the Supreme Court”, PTI spokesperson said.

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“The party is seriously reviewing the hidden political motives in the attorney general’s statement”, it was further mentioned.

PML-N’s Response:

PML-N’s senior leader Khawaja Saad Rafique also took to the twitter and responded to the media reports. He clarified that Ms. Nuzhat gave up her American citizenship in 2012. Allegations regarding her dual nationality are “baseless”, he further said.

Verdict of the Supreme Court and declaration of ECP

The Supreme Court of Pakistan ruled back in 2012 that lawmakers holding dual nationalities are not eligible to hold any public offices declaring 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 the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry disqualified legislators. Four legislators were from the National Assembly, five from the Punjab Assembly and two from the Sindh Assembly.

The ECP had declared in 2013 while hearing a petition challenging the qualification of Dr Tahirul Qadri to head his party that holders of dual nationality could not hold any office in a political party.

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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.”

Politicians and bureaucrats have different opinions regarding dual citizenship. Some politicians believe that holding dual nationality is not a crime while many other think it questions one’s loyalty to the motherland. In Pakistan, holding dual nationality is a matter of concern particularly for those who hold public offices. Politicians who have dual nationalities are too often subject to political victimization here in Pakistan.