Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah has said that a person born in Pakistan only required a birth certificate to be called a Pakistani and citizenship was his or her right.
He noted that Pakistan is one of the thirty countries that automatically grant citizenship to those born on its soil subject to conditions explicitly stated in the relevant law. This right, he stressed, was based on the principle of ‘jus soli’ or the law of the soil.
The IHC CJ’s remarks came during the written order on hearing of the petition of a 24-year-old Afghan, who was born in Pakistan, seeking Pakistani citizenship.
The IHC CJ observed that many nations have changed their respective laws e.g. France in 1993 and the United Kingdom in 1983. However, Pakistan has not changed nor reformed section 4 of the Act of 1951.
The birthright citizenship, therefore, cannot be denied in Pakistan unless the exemptions explicitly described under the Act of 1951 are attracted, he added.
“Just like laws in countries such as America and others, our law is also bound to grant citizenship to every child born here,” the chief justice remarked.
Subsequently, the court observed that while processing the application of the petitioner are expected to consider the principles and law highlighted in the verdict in Hafiz Hamdullah’s case.
During the case’s hearing on Thursday, the court, while ruling on the plea of the Afghan national, had directed NADRA to keep this principle in mind and also ordered the interior ministry to complete the legal process in the case on October 28 and submit a report.
The man’s lawyer, Umer Ijaz Gilani, had told the court that his client spent 24 years in Pakistan without any citizenship.
The interior ministry’s counsel assured the court the ministry would immediately verify the birth certificate of the Afghan.
Pakistan is home to around 2.8 million Afghan refugees, including 1.5 million registered and 1.3 million unregistered Afghans, according to the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR.
After the Taliban takeover of the war-battered country in August 2021, some 250,000 additional Afghans took shelter in Pakistan.
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