Can Dual Nationality be Allowed for Parliament Members?

"A man with two hats can seldom be trusted; his loyalties are doubtful even if he is not." Raja Mujtaba

By Tariq Majeed

Can a Member of National Assembly (MNA) or Senate or of a Provincial Assembly (MPA} be allowed to have dual nationality? Pose the question to an educated Pakistani, and his prompt answer is, no. The logic is simple. Dual nationality means dual, ie, divided, loyalty. We cannot allow persons of divided loyalty to sit in the assemblies, whose business it is to discuss and decide matters of vital national importance and sensitive and secret issues and where decisions have to be taken exclusively in the interest of Pakistan.

But there is a class of people, who support parliamentarians having dual nationality. And even see some advantage in it! Not surprisingly, most of them are of an elite class—affluent, influential, owning land, industry or flourishing business, enjoying power and abundant privileges, well-connected with the country’s rulers whoever they may be, and having interests and assets in foreign countries, primarily US and Britain. The people in this class are a diverse lot, belonging to different communities and walks of life and differing in their political and ideological views. But, their common class interests bind them together. Former prime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, in a way a leading representative of this class, ardently supported dual nationality,

The issue that some members of the parliament were holding foreign nationality surfaced when a petition was made to the Supreme Court that MNA Farahnaz Ispahani, wife of Hussain Haqqani, former ambassador to US, was a US citizen. The Supreme Court, on 25 May 2012, suspended her membership of the national assembly “for having foreign nationality and barred her from participating in the house committees’ meetings and policymaking processes.”

Defending Mrs. Haqqani, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani argued that in Britain over 300 councilors, mayors and members of House of Commons and House of Lords were Pakistanis [meaning they had dual nationality]. He then remarked, “What will happen if Britain abolished the citizenship of Lord Nazir Ahmad?”

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This was a politician’s explanation, skirting the issue. He should have been asked, so what, if Britain abolished Nazir Ahmad’s citizenship? Another question for him would have been, what he thought if Nazir Ahmad who sits in the House of Lords in Britain simultaneously sat in the National Assembly in Pakistan!

A few days later, Mr. Gilani, perhaps having realized that his first utterance on the issue lacked in justifying his views, offered fresh reasoning.  As reported in the Nation on 10 June, he said, ‘Pakistanis having dual nationality were members of the parliament in other countries, but those countries never raised any objection. “If the existing principle on dual nationality is followed then Pakistan’s national interest will be at stake,” he remarked.’

Does this remark come in the category of political gaffes—with which now and then he let people be amused or amazed? Or was there something more to it? Dual nationality is not allowed in many countries, including India. Are they worried their national interest is being hurt!

            What is the Indian position on dual citizenship? According

"The constitution of India does not allow dual citizenship, ie, simultaneously holding Indian citizenship and citizenship of a foreign country. The Government of India has decided to grant Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI), which most people mistakenly refer to as dual citizenship. Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) of certain categories who migrated from India and acquired citizenship of a foreign country, other than Pakistan and Bangladesh, are eligible to be granted an OCI as long as their home countries allow dual citizenship under their local laws.

If you get an OCI it is not the same as being a regular Indian citizen: You do not get an Indian passport. There is no such thing as an OCI passport. You have no voting rights. You cannot be a candidate for Lok Sabha [or a state assembly]. You cannot hold employment in the Government of India.”

Britain makes its policies on immigration, political asylum, dual citizenship etc, according to its requirements, which extend beyond the domestic sphere to the international field because Britain is also a major pace setter in ushering in the New World Order (NWO). The same is the case with United States and various other western countries. The NWO aims at fragmentation of nation-states and in the process wants them to open up their economic, political and administrative systems to foreigners. Pakistan just cannot imitate the other countries on such sensitive issues. It has to go by its own requirements and interests.

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While suspending MNA Farahnaz, the court noted that those who acquired US citizenship were under oath to pick up arms to defend the US. It is educative, especially for the supporters of dual nationality, to know what the oath covers. This is what it says:

“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 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.”

This is the oath that Mrs. Haqqani took, and to which she is bound as long as she remains a US citizen.

The oath of allegiance that Mr. Rehman Malik, interior minister, subsequently made adviser, took on becoming a British citizen is in these words:

“I, [name], [swear by Almighty God] [do solemnly, sincerely and truly affirm and declare] that, on becoming a British citizen, I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, her heirs, and successors, according to law.”

According to British nationality law, ‘since 1 January 2004, applicants for British citizenship are also required to make a pledge to the United Kingdom as follows’: “I will give my loyalty to the United Kingdom and respect its rights and freedoms. I will uphold its democratic values. I will observe its laws faithfully and fulfil my duties and obligations as a British citizen.”

Mr. Malik’s membership of the Senate was suspended on 4 June by the Supreme Court. The court observed he was holding British nationality at the time of filing his nomination papers for the Senate. Therefore he was disqualified under Article 63(1) (c), which says, “A person shall be disqualified from being elected or chosen as, and from being, a member of the Parliament, if he ceases to be a citizen of Pakistan, or acquires the citizenship of a foreign State.”

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The misrule by the misguided Musharraf regime has left our country in the grip of a political dispensation (to use a favourite expression of the boastful general) that is controlled by the politicians of the class mentioned above. They are in a position to bring in resolutions and laws that perpetuate their hold on power even if it leads to subverting the country’s fundamental interests. So, it won’t be surprising if dual nationality for the parliamentarians is made permissible by law. However, one cannot see such a subversive law remaining in force for long.