Far graver issues to worry about

There is little point in igniting a national storm over dual nationality when there are far more important issues

Editorial February 02, 2018

There is little point in igniting a national storm over dual nationality when there are far more important issues that demand our time and attention. Take the example of the Board of Investment’s current secretary, Samaira Nazir Siddiqui, who has recently admitted that she is also a bonafide citizen of New Zealand. Her confession of dual citizenship before an inquiry body set up by the establishment division on the orders of the apex court shows that government rules have been breached to a certain extent but such violations are hardly worthy of national attention — unless of course the concealment of dual citizenship results in financial and material losses to the national exchequer or jeopardises national security in any way. Neither judges nor civil servants are barred from holding dual nationalities but they are required to declare their status. Since the Board of Investment is under the control of the Prime Minister’s Office and the spouse of Samaira is a senior bureaucrat, the matter should not be blown out of proportion. This is not to suggest that dual nationality cases be treated lightly or ignored altogether.

Last month, a three-member bench of the Supreme Court had ordered the establishment division and the SC and high court registrars to draw up a list of Pakistani judges and senior civil servants who were also citizens of other countries. As far as can be discerned, Samaira was fairly forthcoming about her status of dual citizenship, sharing the information with the Federal Board of Revenue first and volunteering to act on the establishment division’s query immediately.

There is no reason to suspect any of our senior civil servants or judges of wrongdoing, as can be gauged from the responses of senior-most civil servants. Still the law must take its course. But what is the need of conducting these inquiries under the glare of the 24/7 media? The focus of the SC inquiry is rightly on the number of dual citizens among civil servants and judges and not their identities.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 2nd, 2018.

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