All over the world, states are gradually moving out of the phase of nationalism based on a presumption of war. If one is preparing for war, as nation states in the past did, then loyalty becomes important. Oaths of citizenship still carry a strong undertow of fear of betrayal. The US is easy on dual citizenship in practice but the laws have remained unchanged.
In some cases, the presumption of war has faded. In the UK, the state is easy on ‘foreigners’ becoming legislators. Even Lord Nazir with his bizarre loyalty — not to Pakistan but to an extremist fringe of Pakistani politics — is acceptable to it. One presumes, states wedded to multiculturalism are less likely to be finicky. The Pakistani vote in the UK is important and the Labour Party will not let it go. What damage can Lord Nazir do to the UK if he is more loyal to Pakistan?
Article 63(1/C) of the Pakistan Constitution is clear. You can’t become a legislator if you are a citizen of some other country. But you can have dual nationality and people don’t tire of referring to how this provision has benefited Pakistan: remittances from these ‘double-crossers’ net us more than all foreign aid put together in a year.
What can a ‘double-crossing’ legislator do to harm Pakistan? Can he do some hanky-panky in lawmaking to benefit his ‘master state’? In a country where the army calls all the shots, can he really influence foreign policy? (In truth, we need these double-crossing citizens in large numbers in our legislatures to weigh in against crazy ‘nationalist’ single-nationality holders pushing Pakistan into isolationism.)
The presumptions are many and they may be medieval. Our state is supposed to be going to war very soon. This happens frequently and ends in defeat, which should make the judiciary naturally alarmist about dual nationality.
After war, there is the presumption of corruption. The argument is that it would be very easy for an American Pakistani to take Pakistani wealth abroad after acquiring it unfairly as a minister. Is this presumption genuine? Will a single-nationality Pakistani somehow find himself genetically incapable of acquiring wealth through corruption and stashing it away in Switzerland and London?
If you have overheard the judges, a ‘dual’ legislator will get to hear ‘nuclear’ secrets and assist the rascally Americans to get to the bombs to ‘steal’ or ‘take them out’. But if you are a loyal Pakistani legislator with only a single nationality, you are not supposed to do this sort of thing. Abroad, the impression is that a Pakistani will sell his mother, etc …
Why should Pakistan be scared of a ‘dual’ American becoming a legislator; why shouldn’t America be scared of a secretly jihadi ‘dual’ from Pakistan? In the US today, most ‘naturalised’ Pakistani Americans are intensely anti-US despite the oath of citizenship. The Patriot Act (2001) was made for them.
We have to educate American Pakistanis to be more loyal to the US so that they can be useful to us. An American Pakistani foreign minister can negotiate with his American counterpart with greater chances of success. Diplomacy is not devoted to war but to its avoidance.
Presumptions can give rise to laws but they cannot do away with facts that tend to change the human mind in the long run. In a conservative and literalist environment, the law will not keep pace and will lag behind.
The new law should be: acquire ‘dual’ legislators because they will bring in a higher consciousness from Europe and America to balance the corruption and disloyalty of the ‘single’-citizen politicians with illicit wealth stashed abroad.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2012.
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