Dual Nationality…Loyalty to Whom ?

By Sethi Mushtaq

Security Issues

Since citizenship carries with it a responsibility to be exclusively loyal to one country, the whole concept of dual citizenship and nationality raises questions about which of the dual citizenship’s have priority. This is extremely important when the two countries have opposing interests. It can be a deadly problem when a dual citizen is in a high position within our government.

Can one imagine a Japanese citizen serving in the Pentagon during WWII? Or how about a citizen of the Soviet Union holding a cabinet position in the White House during the Cold War?

One can imagine that it is difficult for someone who has lived in one country most of their life to comprehend and assimilate, why anyone would want Dual Nationality? Because, dual nationality/citizenship, could without hesitation, imply dual loyalties and that is what gives rise to the very uncomfortable question:

How on earth, a person could be loyal to two countries, particularly if one has political rights or works in government jobs?

There are some governments,who feel it isn’t…India for example. It had mulled over giving dual citizenship to its citizens but finally decided not to…

It is matter of common sense and logic, that no constitution in the world could recommend,entail nor permit dual allegiance ! Which in simple terms means owing loyalty to another country’s constitution,apart from his own! That is why they remain silent on this issue.

Some countries which allow Dual Citizenship





United Kingdom

United States



Some countries which forbid Dual Citizenship






Understandably, there are numerous advantages that a dual passport holder avails…but many of them are financial.

If he/she is a business traveler then it means less wastage of time in getting visas, permissions etc.

If he travels to his other country. It also means that there is no problem buying property in that country or getting access to restricted areas. And he can avail of these benefits from both countries!

There is also the infinite advantage…of belonging. It’s not easy to get a sense of belonging to the adopted country unless one is born and brought up there…and a citizenship of the home country can give that sense of being rooted, or a sense of emotional satisfaction. This will vary from person to person but I suspect that giving up one’s Pakistani citizenship would be a heart wrenching decision for most people!

However, where there is advantage there are could be some negative aspects as well. For instance it could misuse the dual citizenship to do harm to the country. As dual citizenship means ease of travel (no requirement for visas) it could come of use to anyone with a terrorist intention, spying or any other nefarious designs out of choice or pressure under the allegiance given by sworn Oath to the adopted country…

This is exactly the question which is presently doing rounds through the minds of those Pakistanis, who have lived their whole lives in Pakistan .Especially, now in light of the Honorable, Chief Justice of the apex court of the country, recent judgment on a petition filed by a citizen citing dual nationality holders  occupying higher level public offices as a security risk, Thus disqualifying Ms.Farah Ispahani., from being a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan, on the basis of her holding dual citizenship of the USA and that of Pakistan,

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In his ruling the honorable CJP expressed the following concerns

“According to the contents of the US citizenship document” a person has to renounce citizenship of the country they were born in when they attain US citizenship.”

“Also, when a person swears in for the US citizenship, they need to be loyal to the US and if needed, they have to take part in war and also perform their duty as non-combatant.”

The court said that this also means that Ispahani could be given the task of spying.”

The court questioned why she had concealed this fact before sitting in the National Assembly, as she “might have collected secret information regarding sensitive matters, particularly defense and foreign issues.”

Dual nationality: SC suspends Ispahani’s NA membership



Importantly, the law already exists in the form of an Article 63-1 (c) of the Pakistan constitution. More so, the Article has been already added to clauses relating to qualification and disqualification under the 18th amendment…The law is there but a mechanism was not in existence to implement it. Thus seems that the Supreme Court of Pakistan filled that void and the loophole.

Poll bar on holders of dual-nationality.

To enlighten myself about the same observation and concern expressed by the honorable Chief Justice .I searched the net for the exact Oath of Allegiance, to which the naturalized citizen’s are sworn too .It is append below with the link:

“The Oath of Allegiance to the United States

The following is the text of the Oath of Allegiance:

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen;

that I will support and defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic;

that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same;

that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law;

that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law;

that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and

that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God. http://www.usconstitution.net/consttop_citi.html “

Further on in my search I also discovered that according to the US, Immigration and naturalization law under their constitutional 14th amendment their citizen ship could stand revoked. It read as cited below: 

 “Involuntarily Losing Your US Citizenship (De-naturalization)

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Both the State Department and the USCIS have specific laws and regulations they must follow in determining whether someone’s US citizenship should be taken away.

2. Holding A Policy Level Position In A Foreign Country

If you become an elected official or hold a policy-level position (like an ambassador, cabinet minister, or any high level administrative position where you make government policy) in your native country or a foreign country, you run the risk of losing your US citizenship.

For further information, see the State Department’s circular: ADVICE ABOUT POSSIBLE LOSS OF U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND SEEKING PUBLIC OFFICE IN A FOREIGN STATE.http://www.newcitizen.us/losing.html 


Similarly, though the US does allow holding dual nationality, but under their Immigration and naturalization act, ensures the allegiance of the citizen has to be single, that is only to the constitution of the US, in both cases. Rather the naturalized citizen has to renounce his/her allegiance to his country of birth as is evident from the Oath of Allegiance.In a nutshell, what one can safely assume is that the US permits naturalized Nationals or Citizens to hold dual nationality, but not without making certain at the same time, it does not compromise their national interest and security.

Obvious enough those in Pakistan, who hold dual nationality and at the same time are enjoying and reaping the benefits of having occupied  and placed in higher level public offices in their native country,very intelligently to protect their personal interestattempt to advance an argument using the shoulders of those Overseas Pakistanis, who though are holder of dual nationality, but retain it only for the simple convenience aspect of the financial and travel etc cited already above.

However, to counter their (Overseas Pakistanis) apprehension and fears of losing the advantages they had with dual nationality. I append below a way through which India, which does not allow Dual Nationality had adopted to accommodate and facilitate their citizens abroad… Pakistan to could come out with a similar scheme to facilitate the overseas Pakistanis…But it is suggested that the dual nationality holder if permitted to continue availing this relaxation, should not under any circumstances or pressure be allowed to hold Policy level Positions in the GOP, Parliament etc.

It is known as the Overseas Citizenship (OCI) scheme. It gives the holder financial benefits and ease of travel…but it’s important to remember that the OCI does not entitle one to an Indian passport. Some might call the OCI Indian citizenship but no way does it mean Indian nationality or real Indian citizenship. The OCI is simply a stamp on the existing foreign passport…in other words something akin to a life-long visa. Those eligible are Indian migrants from Independent India (and their children and grandchildren) who have acquired foreign citizenship…but not those who have acquired citizenship of Pakistan or Bangladesh or ever were the citizens of these countries. The OCI gives the following benefits:

Right to indefinitely visit, study or work in India

Right to own most types of property in India (excluding agricultural properties)

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Dispenses with the need to register with local police/immigration authorities

But what it does not give is:

Right to vote

Eligibility for government employment

Unrestricted access to restricted/protected areas

(For more details on the OCI, please visit make inquiries with the Indian embassy as these are just brief details)…

The Person of Indian Origin (PIO) Card

Very similar to the OCI, and so are the eligibility criteria….if there is a difference in the eligibility criteria then that information could not be obtained. Nevertheless,the main difference between the OCI and the PIO is that the PIO is temporary and lasts for 15 years from the date of issue. Also, PIO Card holders are usually required to register with police/immigration authorities if they stay more than 180 days.

The other benefits are similar…and as in the case of the OCI, holders of the POI have no political rights and cannot hold jobs in the government…

Unfortunately, in Pakistan, many parliamentarians are stated to be having foreign nationalities; besides their spouses and children, some of whom are either born or have acquired nationality of the other country.Similar is the case of many government officials and their families; a few are sitting at even the highest policy – making level…

It becomes very hard to digest that such people,could have interest in Pakistan, other then availing themselves of perks and privileges attached to the position and status they have been enjoying in the country of their birth…

It is regretful that because of the flawed law, even some prime ministers had US citizenship. For instance, Moin Qureshi and Shaukat Aziz...When they landed in Pakistan, they had American passports. What happened to economy during  the latter’s tenure as Prime Minister and Finance Minister, respectively, is no more a secret….

Had the the amendment to the Constitution been brought through the bill,it would have been a great service to the nation. By clogging many loopholes of corruption and improprieties committed by members/officials whose loyalties be with the country they had taken the oath allegiance of and not to Pakistan.

The nation should in my humble opinion should re-take to the members of the ruling party, as well as to those sitting in opposition benches, to work in unison in the greater interest of the country and bring an amendment to the Constitution of 1973 so that those who obtain nationality of other countries as a choice can be stopped from holding public offices or membership of assemblies.

In conclusion, in my personal opinion it is suggested that the dual nationality holding if at all permitted to continue availing then it should not under any circumstances or pressure be allowed to hold Policy level Positions in the GOP, Parliament etc. Reason being that those who took the oath of allegiance of another country had automatically withdrawn loyalty to the country of their birth. As a result, they are most likely bound to serve the interest of their newly acquired nationhood !