Members of parliament holding dual citizenship had already paid a price with their resignations following a ruling by the country’s apex court in the year 2012. The SC had ruled that a person who ceases to be the citizen of Pakistan or acquires citizenship of another country should be disqualified from the membership of parliaments and senate. The drawn-out legal wrangles faced by lawmakers back then had resulted in around a dozen of them being declared disqualified. Now, six years on, civil servants with similar dual nationality stigma are braced for the cull. The Supreme Court on Saturday directed the federal and provincial governments to set deadlines for civil servants with dual nationalities to either give up their job or the second nationality as it announced a verdict in a suo motu case. A two-member bench of the court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, instructed the concerned governments to legislate and take necessary measures on the issue. Failure to relinquish other nationalities on government employees’ part within the stipulated time should result in legal action, the court stated in its order.
The court remarked that government employees who hold foreign nationalities during the course of their employment are a threat to the interests of the state of Pakistan. Furthermore, the apex court said that in case a non-Pakistani is to be engaged in employment then the concerned cabinet’s permission should be secured. The court directed the federal and provincial governments to compile lists of its employees who hold dual nationalities, and told the parliament to legislate and take necessary measures. This bold decision should go a long way in silencing murmurings of discontent among legislators who often grumble they were being unfairly singled out when it comes to holding dual citizenship even as bureaucrats were conveniently being let off the hook. This grievance, it appears, now stands removed.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 17th, 2018.