In the past it has been pejoratively said that dual nationality is like polygamy with citizenship. While heated debates about dual nationality are now rarer, they were at their most acrimonious during the height of the Cold War largely because of fears about the loyalty of dual nationals and their potential for espionage and worse.
It’s interesting that the Supreme Court has invoked that argument in the recent suspension of Farahnaz Ispahani’s National Assembly membership on charges that she holds US citizenship, and the Court is also trying to determine whether Rehman Malik has actually renounced his British citizenship.
The first question we need to answer is, does this matter? Research done in America on Latinos suggests that dual nationals are less likely to participate in local elections, to be involved in two separate political systems is taxing leading to less involvement overall. That, of course, does not suggest that they are not valued members of their communities in either of their countries of nationality, but simply that they engage less with the political process. The research is not exhaustive I must caution, it isn’t conclusive.
So one could argue that dual nationality makes a nation less better off when it comes to political participation. But we need to keep in mind the enormous benefits of allowing people to have dual nationalities. We are dependent on foreign remittances; they provide us foreign exchange and tend to be a cushion against fidgety capital. Our workforce abroad needs protection and nationality acquisition is a good hedge for the individual and Pakistan itself. The EU is a good case of individual member nation’s subjects who are citizens (albeit loosely) of a larger confederation itself, a move made in part to develop better, fluid markets. In any case, with greater mobility, the concept of dual nationality is something countries will have to come to accept.
But we aren’t discussing average citizens here, so we move to the question at hand: should legislators be allowed to have dual nationality? No major country that I know of allows a dual national to hold high office. And Pakistan doesn’t as well, and it shouldn’t.
The reasons for that need not be as insidious as potential treason. First, there is the issue of equity — it gives some people double representation. Second, it creates ease of flight, and when holding political office that is the last thing that should be open to someone. Third, there are genuine reasons where dual nationalities for legislators can create conflicts of interest, especially between countries like the US and Pakistan whose purposes are not always aligned.
Academically, there is no evidence to suggest that there is more likelihood for a dual national to betray a country than a single nationality holder. But in countries with strong nationalism, like Germany and Pakistan, and security concerns, like America and Pakistan, dual nationality can become a lightning rod issue around the fear that it could create the breeding grounds for duplicity.
In the case of Ms Ispahani, there is definitely an equity issue, since having a foreign citizenship and then taking up a reserved women’s seat in the National Assembly means that it defeats the purpose of women’s seats at the very least. It’s unfortunate that it affects a legislator who is more active and competent than most, but the basic premise of what the Supreme Court did was right. The ruling would be complicated, however, if it turns out that she holds a Green Card (which means no voting rights) and is not a citizen. In that case an argument could be made that it has more to do with residence than accepting the anachronistic oath for citizenship for the US which clearly disqualifies one from being able to serve Pakistan as a member of parliament.
Some countries have laws that prevent spouses or children of legislators from being foreign nationals. In Pakistan, that would mean many of our rabid hawks would have to go, like Chaudry Nisar Ali Khan and a lot of the Jamiat.
Of course, the Supreme Court has not been wholly fair. It should use the same logic to disqualify party leaders who do not hold elected office on the same grounds enunciated for Farahnaz Ispahani.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 29th, 2012.
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There should no bar on dual citizens in holding public office. There r many Pakistani nationals who r British too and sitting in British Parliament. I think the only solution for Pakistan is western trained people that include politicians. Our respected Supreme Court is re-writing the constitution. There is no clause whatsoever barring dual nationality holder to run or hold an office. Even in Farah Isphahani order, SC failed to refer and clause of the constitution of Pakistan OR the Penal code. The whole order was based on assumption that a foreign (Dual) nationality holder can not be faithful to Pakistan. In this context, SC must withdraw the right of vote to the same category of voters.
to all those bloggers who thinks that these dual nationals are contributing in remittances...is very negligible...may be 0.01 1% of our total foreign remittance by our expats...who are not dual nationals....it is observed in blogs n comments n tv talks on this issue that people ( intentionally or un-intentionally ) are mixing these 2 categories of Pakistani born but having 2 citizenship n expats who are only pakistani n most patriotic than those holding dual nationality who are ever ready with a briefcase to fly at the slightest sign of problem....so,pls request all to look into these 2 category separatly n then comment....
In Germany and almost in entire Western Europe, a person cannot hold dual-citizenship. You must renounce your nationality before embracing another and the act of possessing dual-citizenship is regarded as Crime. . @haris: I am afraid, your statement is totally misleading. Dual-citizenship is not a crime. Though EU(specially Germany) does not look sympathetically at the idea of dual citizenship, more and more citizens of EU are acquiring another passport, which enables them to participate in the political process of the country of their origin.
For a detailed coverage of the topic please download a PDF copy of "Dual Citizenship" published by the European Parliament.
If this is a law then they must abide by it.
Let this also pave the way for the rule of disqualifying those holding bank accounts in foreign nations.
@Sundas: The courts have done nothing except that have tried to uphold the constitution. Article 63 (c) of the constitution of Pakistan does not allow the holders of other nationalities to be a MNA or MPA. So instead of pouring your boiling wrath on the courts, please go through the constitution.
@John B: I always read your comments and find them close to my view. I agree that every thing business,jobs and constituitional posts should be open to every one irrespective of their religion race or .... But I do have a problem with this decision.iIf you can vote then you have right to contest elections and subsequently hold a ministerial jobs or so. Here politics is very simple that PCO judge will not ban dual national to vote as that will benefit PPP.
Courts are playing havoc with this country. It is deliberate effort to push country in anarchy and fascism. It is willing bid to undermine the roots of democracy. Dual nationality does not mean that a person is not loyal to his/her soil. He could be much more patriot than so called national leaders. Supreme Court must answer what harm they have done to this country? What is wrong in holding dual nationality? It is called double standard; I am sure several family members of these judges would be holding dual nationality. Research suggests that diversity in any place bring fruitful change, so dual national holders know well international culture and thus bring positive change in legislation. Secondly, our local politicians are only good in deception and corruption and have very limited knowledge about international politics; therefore, dual nationals can help in educating them by getting involved in main stream politics. in my opinion supreme court decision would not bring any positive outcome.
It is hilarious that this law was promulgated by a dictator whose own Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz was a dual nationality holder and where is written in constitution of Pakistan that a dual nationality holder can not be MNA... Which law said that a dual citizen cannot be a MNA? Pakistan changed its citizenship act retroactively in 2002 to allow dual citizenship of 16 countries including USA. Which law did the PCO judges use? No law at all. The as usual took over the function of the legislature and created a new Law for the land of the Pure. Judicial activism is just directed to target PPP parliamentarians and members. If Supreme Court passes ruling against dual nationality it should also pass a ruling according to which No MNA, or MPA can send his/ her family abroad either for education or settlement but court will never do because their own families are living abroad and their children are studying in foreign institutions.
@John B: John, I understand full well that one has to be patriotic and take an oath for naturalization. Let me give you an example of driver's license. Why cannot one have licenses of more than one country or International license? That does not mean the person is going to break the laws of different countries. It means the person should know the laws of each country and follow them not break them. I am a Pakistani and would not commit an act of treason against Pakistan and its people. I do have full rights to criticize its policies and practices that I do not agree with. Same goes with the US. I have openly been critical of the US policies in many areas and that is no treason. I would not spare a chance to make a meaningful change in any society. In fact a more enlightened person can build bridges and not the walls among countries. I love Pakistan but I like many things in India, how could that be bad? I hope I made some sense? Sorry for being too long. To me I can be citizen of many countries and yet not hurt the people of any country. Thanks and regards, Mirza
Most Pakistanis who become naturalized dual citizens are well educated, but many who are born in another country (e.g. people from rural Punjab who are settled in Britain) are not. I think dual citizens should be allowed to hold senior parliamentary positions in Pakistan and so should non-Muslims (or Ahmadis, for that matter), but being a dual national and well-educated isn't synonymous.
@ishrat salim: "u cannot stand as MP in UK if u r a Pakistani citizen only…can you ? u also cannot stand as MP if you hold dual nationality"
Factually incorrect. You CAN stand for Parliament in UK if you have dual citizenship. Lord Nazir is an example. The part about not being eligible for UK parliament membership if you are a Pak national only is irrelevant. OFcourse UK citizenship IS required for UK parliament just as Pakistani citizenship IS required for Pakistani parliament. But dual citizenship is permitted by UK - which you say is not permitted.
@ishrat salim: Regarding amendments in Constitution, it has become a joke for our politicians and senators. So I could not guarantee how long will this law be protected. My only intuition is to inform my prosperous Pakistanis that possessing dual nationality is intolerable in most part of the World, particularly in developed and economically stable countries including China. So my dear Pakistanis, don't make any false prejudice about it.
''But in countries with strong nationalism, like Germany and Pakistan, and security concerns, like America and Pakistan, dual nationality can become a lightning rod issue around the fear that it could create the breeding grounds for duplicity''.
` This is what must be pondered upon......PM's coming down the parachute!!!!? Remember!
I believe a Mexican Wave of appreciation is what this article calls for. Clear, accurate and lacking the vitriol that has come to define Pakistani social and political discourse. Great work Fasi!
@Ali Bilal: In Britain, any British citizen (regardless of whether he holds dual nationality) can stand for Parliament. As can any citizen of the Commonwealth.
In Germany, Austria, Netherlands Denmark, Norway, Malaysia, Indonesia and even India doesn't encourage their citizen to have dual nationality. A citizen of these countries Cannot stand for any parliamentary position. In fact it is considered as a criminal act in some of the aforementioned countries.
FYI! Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway are much more stable, more secure than Britain. The living standard in these countries are way better.
"So one could argue that dual nationality makes a nation less better off when it comes to political participation. "
In Germany and almost in entire Western Europe, a person cannot hold dual-citizenship. You must renounce your nationality before embracing another and the act of possessing dual-citizenship is regarded as Crime.
on the face of it dual nationality does not seem to be right..simply put.. in one country you earn money and then buy political clout in the other
Fasi, you are a reasonable man but I beg to disagree. I am a dual national and have economic and family ties to both countries. I am very much tuned and involved in the political and democratic process of both countries, so there is no political apathy as you point out. I have been a responsible and contributing citizen to both countries and consider them both my home with utmost loyalty. Times have changed and we must keep up, rather than close ourselves up further with the paranoia of a fascist state. Loyalties cannot be determined by arbitrary definitions.
Pakistan's worst criminals (read: leaders) were true born patriots, none of them dual citizens. All of those who fled into exile were also true born citizens, the lack dual nationality did not prevent them from fleeing. Yes if our legislature declares this then so be it, but our politicised judges do not and should not have the mandate to decide this. If one day I want to serve one of my countries and am able and willing, should i be prevented? Should leaders not be chosen on the basis of ability than jingoistic concoctions?
Strictly speaking there is nothing legal in this case despite this case has legal questions. Hunting PPP members is prime job of our supreme court and that's it.
Fasih! I respect your POV, although I don't agree with it- Cheers!
@Mirza: Israel offers citizenship to all Jews regardless of their current citizenship. It is not the same as US giving citizenship to Israeli citizens or any one for that matter. Like all citizenships, US citizenship demands loyalty to the flag and the constitution.
Anyone who wants to hold public office (be it a politician, bureaucrate or armed forces) should not have dual nationality. period!
Since you like pointing to U.S to support your argument. Do you not remember the whole fear mongering there over Obama's Birth Certificate. And that President cannot be born outside the U.S even if he is a citizen. Evidence or not, common sense should dictate your thesis that the people best equipped to Govern a nation or hold the public offices are the ones residing within it. And To the People commentating that Supreme Court twisted laws and rules, they are the foremost authority on law. What they is the Law in any Republic.
Before we are over powered with patriotism and condemn dual nationality please pause and think how our balance of payments is supported by overseas remittances. Some of these can be attributed to these dual nationals .
I would go further than what the constitutional boundaries allow and say that anybody who has financial interests abroad, should not be allowed to contest/hold any public office in Pakistan. . Anybody who wishes to serve in an elected position, in Pakistan, ought to wind-up his business interests abroad and bring everything back home. . Pakistan can do without public servants (whether in elected office or bureaucracy) who aren't willing to bet their future on Pakistan.
“No major country that I know of allows a dual national to hold high office.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger is a citizen of Austria and US. He was elected and served as Governor of California, one of the larger states of US.
Mirza is absolutely right. The PCO CJ is merely out of control and has a personal vendetta against PPP. It would be good for the Country if he resigns and retires a year early. We need a complete new bench at the supreme court for the judiciary to have any respect now.
@John B: there is no bar on non Muslims, Rana Bhagwan Das is a well respected example.
I am afraid that I had to comment on the assertion that Germans are particularly nationalistic, when there is no country more given to self-flagellation than Germany. Even during the last football world cup there was a big debate as to whether it was proper for German football fans to have German flags out because of WW2, national socialism etc. etc.
Having another passport does not mean that someone is unpatriotic. Perhaps that person wants to gain experience abroad and is tired of standing for hours in the immigration queue and being treated like a criminal. It could also be because they want to have a backup option to leave the country quickly should they ever find themselves in danger. It is also incredibly practical to have a second passport in case the first one needs to be renewed, or has been sent off to get a visa. Pakistani passports do not open a lot of doors these days, so you really cannot blame someone for wanting something that facilitates travel and provides a safety net. If Pakistan had a better reputation, better employment opportunities and fewer issues with law and order, not so many people would be inclined to get another passport.
Dr Pakhtun...there u r...bull`s eye....that is the article the SC referred to in case of Ms Farah Naz....but wait...now all the parties especially the main 2 will agree to introduce bill to revoke this article 63 ( 1 ) ( C ) thru 21st amendment.....when it comes to their respective parties problems...they all will & can introduce amendments...but will not act same way to resolve much important issues of the poor people who elected them....is this what " democracy is all about " ? People have become very disenchanted / disappointed by the very word " democracy " due to such selfish actions of the politicians leading to prevalent mess.
"“No major country that I know of allows a dual national to hold high office.”"
Ipsihani did not have a high office, she was an MNA. IS Lord Nazir not a dual citizen? Is he not a member of the British house.
@ Dual National Speaks-100% agreed. If I were asked to give up my American Citizenship. I would not even think about it for a fraction of a second. I am treated 1000 times better here in america then I was by my "fellow" pakistanis. I have lived in pak for a short while. The people even in the major cities can many times be truly barbaric. They will have no qualms to kill you or throw you under the bus if it suits their agenda. Thanks but NO THANKS!! Patriotic Pakistanis can run their country on their own if they are so concerned. It seems they are doing a spectacular job these days...
Do you know the Co-Chairperson of PM David Cameron's Conservative Party? Baroness Sayeeda Warasi (belongs to Pakistani Gujjar family) is not only co chairperson of Conservative Party but is also a life peer in the House of Lords and she is not the only brown in the Parliament either there are many other as well regardless of their ethnic or religious affiliation.
Also, You may or may not know but any Pakistani either student or otherwise living in the UK can cast their vote in any election along with other common wealth citizens. There are
Why does one have two wives ? Simply because he can, but it does not make it right for the wives. Laws should be made for the good of the country and not the convenience of the law makers.
@Fasi Zaka: "John and I are referring to the fact a non Muslim is legally barred from becoming a president or prime minister in pakistan"
Yes I am aware. But John implied that the degree of conflict of interest in a dual citizen holding a high constitutional post is identical to a non-Muslim holding a non-constitutional post. So if a dual citizen is allowed, so should a non-Muslim.
My point is that while the issue of dual citizen holding a high post is debatable from the perspective of fairness, denying that to non-Muslim Pakistani citizens is outright unfair. Comparing these 2 things therefore is not correct.
very good informative article, after reading the article i would like to add some points. first, research suggest that diversity in any place bring fruitful change, so dual national holders know well international culture and thus bring positive change in legislation. secondly, our local politicians are only good in deception and corruption and have very limited knowledge about international politics, therefore, dual nationals can help in educating them by getting involved in main stream politics. in my opinion supreme court decision would not bring any positive outcome, because in the past, politicians denying US orders had been removed through military intervention such as Bhutoo killing incident, so time will unveil it in future.
You wrote: "No major country that I know of allows a dual national to hold high office." There are many US high officials who have been dual citizens of Israel and other countries. Every Pakistani American can and some do, contest for all posts except the president, who has to be a born US citizen. However, their kids who are born here can contest all elections and there is no law to stop them. I have read a few posts that talk about the family having foreign nationality and that is helpful to flee the country there were references to Nisar and JI leaders. It is interesting that people are not honest to open their mouth about Imran Khan and his family. I am the supporter of dual nationality but one has to be honest across the board. Irony is after PCO CJ could not get HH in Memo case, he went against his family. Four years in her term, all of a sudden it dawned on the CJ that she has dual citizenship! This is a war against the parliament by the unelected PCO judge who cannot wait for the next elections to implement the law across the board? The NA/Senate should hold the session and clarify the law so the election commission could use it when approving the nomination papers not four years later on a personal grudge .
@Ejaaz and others who have not read the the current Constitution of Pakistan should read that the cosititution says
(63) Disqualifications for membership of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament): (1) A person shall be disqualified from being elected or chosen as, and from being, a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament), if:- (c) he ceases to be a citizen of Pakistan, or acquires the citizenship of a foreign State;
I don't support this provision. However, as long as it is in the consititution, it is the law of the land and can be applied.
Dual nationals and non-muslims cannot be compared. A non-muslim cannot be an "awliya" ( a leader if you will) in a muslim country. Most muslim countries have that in their "constitutions" and it is in the Quran. The correct question is why a non-citizen Muslim cannot be a MNA or MPA? There is no law that restricts a dual citizen muslim from being a MNA.
You live in a secular country, not an "Islamic Republic" whose primary law is that there will be no law that contradicts the Quran. It is in the Quran that muslims are not to accept non-muslims as "awliya". That is the law in Pakistan and nearly all other muslim countries at present.
My two cents. First sign of a country plunging itself into anarchy and facism is to start questioning patriotism with insurmountable paranoia.
Fasi, you are a reasonable man and i hope you will understand. I am a proud citizen of two countries. I participate in both their political processes. There is no political apathy. I have ties (economic and family) to both and I contribute to both. I have been a responsible and loyal citizen to both. What is wrong with that? Am I any less able to serve my countries if given the chance? Were those who committed the gravest crimes against Pakistan dual citizens? Or were they true born citizens? You will find the latter. We have to choose leaders on ability. Not arbitrary definitions of loyalty.
Pakistan has been Destroyed by Single Nationality Holders i.e Corrupt Politicians. Dual Nationality people are mostly honest,sincere people and they Love Pakistan More.They are Thousand Times Better than our corrupt politicians who have single nationality!!!.Dual nationality people will serve Pakistan in an honest and better way than those having Pakistani nationality,who only want to loot and plunder Pakistan left,right and center.These people(Dual Nationality) have already been screened out by the western countries of their character/honesty.Alas Our Corrupt Politicians Who Have No Love For Pakistan Will Never Allow Honest and Sincere people to Rule Pakistan so that they can continue their Loot and Plunder Forever.
@ayesha khan: John and I are referring to the fact a non Muslim is legally barred from becoming a president or prime minister in pakistan
@Ali tanoli: "I never seen any other PM or any major seat holder other than whites in English election and i heard south asian lived in london for four decades now….???"
Since you claim to live in US, you HAVE probably seen a non-white President. You are probably also aware that 2 states have Governors of Indian origin.
"Second, it creates ease of flight, and when holding political office that is the last thing that should be open to someone. "
Benazir, Nawaz Sharif, Musharraf - who has not had ease of flight? Which Pakistani ruler has stayed in the country after losing power voluntarily since 1971? Bhutto was hanged.. Zia died mysteriously. Both Nawaz and Benazir had to leave the country in 1999. Musharraf is unable to return to Pakistan.
If your spouse has US citizenship like Ch Nisar and many JI leaders, your easwe of flight is equally high.
This is not to say I disagree with your overall thesis - just on this particular point.2.
@Dual National Speaks: So you hate the country that fed you, clothed you, educated you to a point that you could walk away to greener pastures. This, is how you treat your mother-land. What does that say about you, buddy ?. Not much, I am afraid. . Sure Pakistan is not perfect today. US and UK weren't perfect either, once-upon-a-time. Their citizens decided to stick around and took the trouble to make it better. . Make no mistake about it. When your new 'mates' learn that you walked away from your country, they hold you in contempt, in their hearts. And they have good reasons to do it.
@John B, @Fasi Zaka
John, I have read many of your posts and find you very reasonable. Fasi, I respect your thoughtful articles but on the issue stated by John whereby loyalty of non-Muslims in Pakistan is questioned, I have to say I disagree with you both. I am an Indian Muslim and no less loyal than a Indian Hindu. I would be severely offended if someone accused me of conflict of interest. Fortunately no-one has so far done that. So the idea that non-Muslim Pakistanis can be compared with Pakistanis with dual nationalism from a conflict of interest standpoint seems like a very strange notion to me.
I urge you to review your thoughts and opinions in this matter. You both seem open minded and capable of doing so.
The article has been built on frivolous argument. It is quite obvious that if there is a clash of interest between the two countries the individual who has dual nationality and has also taken the oath of loyalty with his acquired country will have to side with one and most probably with his new country which is the country of his later choice. He cannot claim to be loyal to both the countries.
So you think that non-Muslim nationals are less loyal? And what gives Muslims a certificate of loyalty? Last I heard the Taliban and the stalwarts of this government were all Muslim. Their loyalty towards the ideals of the Quaid are of course there for all to see and an inspiration for us all.
This thought sickens me!
@Khan For your information, I am a doctoral student at USA myself. I don't have any problem with studying,doing job etc abroad but I do have a problem with naturalization.
We know that having only a Pakistani Nationality had never stopped politicians in the past and present to misuse the public office they hold and transfer their wealth abroad. This proves that the control of imposing single nationality rule on people to make them more loyal is not going to work, it might make more educated people to run away. As said earlier by some one that you cannot question the patriotism of a person if he leaves his country where even his life has no security. other issues left aside. Although dual nationally will create conflict of interest issues, but the control measure to ban dual nationality is not right. there must be other controls in place to stop the office bearer of being biased or dishonest.
In Britain, any British citizen (regardless of whether he holds dual nationality) can stand for Parliament. As can any citizen of the Commonwealth.
@John B; Brilliant point. Very insightful, totally agree
@usman: Dual nationality holders are mostly well educated Pakistanis, most of them get their education from abroad and thus are not product of our weak education system where curriculum is outdated and some of these influential politicians get their degrees via cheating and bribe. Parliament house is meant for passing laws after thoroughly discussing it which pseudo educated or illiterate MNA can not do. There were some good things that Musharraf did during his rule and this was one of that. These politicians would never want educated parliamentarians as then their reign will be over. All they want is to rule this county themselves and by their children and grand children in future. PML-N, PML-Q, PPP, ANP and others are a good example of that .. all these parties are always ruled and controlled by just a few families who rule rest of 180 million Pakistanis.
I would like to refer the author of the article to another article published in the Dawn on the same issue. In Dawn 's article, the writer has presented very strong arguments with regard to dual citizenship in Pakistani Laws. The CJ and other interested individuals need to look at that article.
@usman No dual nation in their right mind would give up an American citizenship to get left only with a Pakistani one. This country does not value its people's human rights. Why would we sever ties with another country which accepts us as first class citizens for a country which will not stand up for us no matter how bad it gets? A girl gets raped and the majority here blame the girl. Hospitals turn away people who are dying because they don't want to be held responsible for the death by the media. 95 people get slaughtered and everyone moves on in two days because they were Ahmadi so they don't matter. Why mourn for people you think killing is justified anyway?
Just saying, if I were forced to choose, I wouldn't have to think about if for a nanosecond.
You don't want us? That's okay, we don't want you either. Keep your elected offices.
Agreed wholly. At least in the present world we live in dual nationality gives conflict of interest in constitutional posts. Even the perception of conflict of interest is not healthy.
If PAK people argue that dual nationals should be permitted to hold constitutional offices, then they should also allow non Muslims to hold high constitutional offices. The issues and loyalty apprehension in both instances are the same.
Can you please tell me why are they holding other countries nationalities after all. Don't they take prestige in their own nationality. In my opinion, there should be no such thing as dual nationals. The nationality of people taking other nationalities should be revoked immediately.