Political parties differ on verdict
ISLAMABAD: Political parties have offered mixed reaction to the Supreme Court’s verdict barring holders of dual nationality from becoming members of parliament and provincial assemblies.
Although majority of the parties are in favour of allowing overseas Pakistanis to join national politics at all levels, they suggest certain terms and conditions which a dual national should fulfil before and after entering a legislature.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement is of the opinion that a dual national should be allowed to contest elections just like any other Pakistani citizen and become a legislator. The party is against any string attached to their role in politics.
Talking to Dawn, Zahid Mahmood, a member of the MQM’s central executive committee, said the party supported overseas Pakistanis for their quest to join mainstream politics and had moved a bill in the National Assembly for the purpose.
He said it was unfair that “we praise our Pakistani brothers settled abroad for their support to the country in the form of billions of dollars in remittances, but when it comes to allowing them to contest elections, we don’t support them”.
Mr Mahmood said his party was also in favour of reserving seats in parliament and provincial assemblies for dual nationals.
The PML-Q supports overseas Pakistanis’ demand for taking part in elections, but is against giving them any constitutional post.
Senator Kamil Ali Agha, information secretary of the PML-Q, said the party had no objection to dual nationals doing politics and becoming parliamentarians, but after having been elected if they wanted to contest for the office of prime minister, governor or chief minister, they would have to renounce their foreign citizenships.
But, he said, those sitting parliamentarians who had deliberately hidden their foreign citizenships should be punished as per law. Submitting a false affidavit, Mr Agha added, was like perjury and no-one with such a stigma should be allowed to sit in parliament or provincial assemblies.
Raza Hayat Hiraj, a PML-Q member of the National Assembly, had moved a private member bill against dual nationals contesting elections and holding senior bureaucratic positions. But the bill died down after his party joined the PPP-led coalition government and he became a federal minister.
The opposition PML-N is of the opinion that dual nationals should be allowed to contest elections, but they should forgo their foreign citizenships before taking oath as members of parliament.
Khurram Dastagir, deputy information secretary of the PML-N, said if other parties agreed a consensus bill could be tabled in parliament to address the issue.
Soon after announcement of the verdict by the Supreme Court, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif in a press statement asked all members of parliament and provincial assemblies belonging to his party to strictly follow the court’s orders.
When the government moved a dual nationality bill in the Senate in July, its ally Awami National Party refused to support it.
The bill received another blow when two senior leaders of the PPP — Senators Aitzaz Ahsan and Raza Rabbani — also spoke against the proposed law.
The bill is still pending before the upper house.