Shahbaz yet to sign declaration on dual nationality
08 October, 2012
LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has not yet signed the declaration on dual nationality sent by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) following the directions of the Supreme Court.
He is not the only one in Punjab government's ruling hierarchy who haven't done so, as many of his comrades in the cabinet are following in his footsteps, including Ahmad Ali Olakh, Ehsanuddin Qureshi, Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman and Malik Iqbal Channar. Only three cabinet members of the Shahbaz government have submitted their declarations: Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs Rana Sanaullah Khan, Malik Nadeem Kamran and Chaudhary Abdul Ghafoor. It is worth mentioning that in a House of 371 members, only 100 have submitted their declarations.
The Punjab Assembly Secretariat started this exercise after receiving directions from the Election Commission of Pakistan that acted upon the directions of the apex court. The Supreme Court issued an order after hearing a petition against dual nationality lawmakers that was filed under Article 184(3) of the constitution seeking disqualification of such parliamentarians under Article 63(1)(c) of the constitution read with Section 14 of the Pakistan Citizenship Act, 1951.
The provisions of Article 63(1)(c) of the constitution read, "A person shall be disqualified from being elected or chosen as, and from being, a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (parliament), if he ceases to be a citizen of Pakistan, or acquires the citizenship of a foreign State."
The apex court issued notices to 19 parliamentarians and MPAs, but disqualified 11 of them after proceedings. These include MNAs Farahnaz Ispahani, Farhat Mehmood Khan, Chaudhry Zahid Iqbal, Jamil Ahmad Malik; and MPAs Muhammad Akhlaq, Ashraf Chohan, Nadia Gabol, Waseem Qadir, Nadeem Khadim, Amna Buttar, and Dr Ahmad Ali Shah. Among the 11 disqualified members, five are from the Punjab Assembly and two from the Sindh Assembly. The court also ordered to suspend all perks, salaries, and facilities given to these parliamentarians and ordered them to deposit the amount to the national treasury within two weeks, as prescribed under the law.
The Supreme Court also directed the Election Commission to examine the cases of all parliamentarians and members of provincial assemblies, individually, by obtaining fresh declarations on oath from them that they were "not disqualified under Article 63(1)(c) of the constitution".
The Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies started collecting the declarations from their members, but the National Assembly and Senate refused to comply with the Supreme Court order, hence not a single senator or MNA had signed the declaration. But in Punjab and Balochistan, 100 and 17 assembly members have signed the declaration, respectively.
"On the directions of the ECP, we started collecting the declaration from the MPAs and for the purpose sent letters, SMS and made telephonic calls to convey them the message. The ECP sent us a declaration form that is to be filled by the MPAs and dually signed. The second part is to be completed by me as I have to verify on oath that the member signed it in my presence," Punjab Assembly Secretary Maqsood Malik told our sources.
The declaration sent by the ECP reads, "I -, son/daughter/widow of having National Identity Card No - member National Assembly/Provincial Assembly from (constituency)/Member against reserved seat of National Assembly/provincial Assembly - (province)/Member of Senate (province) do hereby declare on oath that: 1) At the time of filing nomination papers for the aforesaid seat, I was citizen of Pakistan and had not acquired the citizenship of any foreign state/country, 2) I am still citizen of Pakistan and do not possess the citizenship of any foreign country. 3) The declaration made at the time of filing my nomination papers was nothing but true. -. Signature of the member Place Date:-, It is certified on oath that the aforesaid declaration has been made/signed by the above named member before me on - (date) at (place).
Signature and stamp of Secretary National/ Provincial Assembly/ Senate."
It's not only Pakistan's constitution that refrains dual nationals from becoming a legislator, but countries like India, Japan, Iran, Norway and China also have similar conditions in their constitutions. In a media talk, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Fakharuddin G Ebrahim said the country needs "pure Pakistanis" as its representatives, and that "half-Pakistanis" were not needed.
It is however pertinent to mention that the ECP has not yet announced any penalty for those who failed to sign the declaration on time, as the last date for the same is October 9.
The ECP has summoned a meeting on October 9 to decide what to do on the issue of dual nationality. "We were the first ones to disqualify parliamentarians holding dual nationalities. Now that the Supreme Court is also looking into the matter, it has further strengthened this case. This matter if of high importance," the CEC said.