This is with reference to ongoing debate on disqualification of law makers having dual nationality . I appreciate the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government, for coming up with the proposed bill in order to make lawmakers, having dual nationality, eligible to participate in upcoming elections as the Supreme Court disqualified few legislators including former Interior Minister Rehman Malik. At the same same time I would like to suggest government allies to throw weight behind PPP, as sorry saga of dual nationality is an attempt on supremacy of parliament.
I would quote former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s speech, which he delivered on 13th January 2012, I was also there in visitors’ gallery in Parliament attending the session, Gilani said the lawmakers should get together to strengthen Parliament as even “crows get united in difficult times” In my opinion, by taking unconstitutional measures, the legislators, including Farahnaz Ispahani and Rehman Malik of the ruling PPP were disqualified by the court. I believe that this is against the values of a democratic government and could create rifts between the institutions. In the light of the constitution, it is the duty of the executive and the Election Commission to disqualify any legislator, and nowhere in the constitution is it written that Pakistanis cannot hold dual citizenship and cannot become legislators and bureaucrats.
The saga of dual nationality held by parliamentarians is being widely condemned in Pakistan because on the one hand, dual nationals have been given the right to vote for electing members of parliament in Pakistan, while on the other hand, dual nationals have no right to represent them (dual nationals) and the nation as a whole. What an irony!
Regarding the dual nationality issue, the Attorney General Irfan Qadir’s view is also very clear that the Supreme Court had no jurisdiction to suspend or disqualify any lawmaker and its earlier decision to suspend the membership of Farahnaz Ispahani was without any authority. During court proceedings, Attorney General Qadir insisted that the issue raised a question over whether or not the court had the mandate to disqualify parliamentarians. He also raised objections to the chief justice’s referral to fake degree cases as a precedent, saying that the members would continue sitting in the assemblies to address the miseries of overseas Pakistanis.
If we look at the background of the dual nationality saga, we would come to know that even established democracies of the world have no issue with any public office holder who is a dual national. We have a few examples from established democracies of the world. Arnold Schwarzenegger retained his Austrian citizenship during his service as the governor of California. Former Canadian Prime Minister John Turner was a dual citizen born in the UK; there was no issue about his dual citizenship and holding public office. In Pakistan, there should be a debate on the issue of dual citizenship. Parliament should decide the issue and legislate as we have practical examples of established democracies of the world.