Another suspension

Published: June 5, 2012
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Matters of dual nationality should be investigated by the Election Commission, and not the Supreme Court.  PHOTO: FILE

Matters of dual nationality should be investigated by the Election Commission, and not the Supreme Court. PHOTO: FILE

After Farahnaz Ispahani’s National Assembly membership was suspended by the Supreme Court for holding dual nationality, it was inevitable that others would face the same punishment. Such has been the case for Interior Minister Rehman Malik, whose membership in the Senate has been suspended, although he will continue as the de facto interior minister by being appointed as an adviser to the prime minister. The Supreme Court suspensions may seem to be overly harsh but there can be no arguing the fact that dual nationals have been barred by law from serving in parliament. In the case of Ms Ispahani, she commendably and honestly admitted in court that she holds American citizenship, while Malik has denied holding a British passport although he was unable to satisfy the Court that he was telling the truth.

It is disturbing that both the parliamentarians, who have had their membership suspended — so far — are from the PPP. However, here have been whispers about others holding dual nationality in the opposition parties, too, and it is time that the Supreme Court investigated this so that the impression that it is singling out a particular party is dispelled. Besides, rather than pursuing such cases, where the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is questioned, it may be wiser for the justices to try and clear up the thousands of cases that are gathering dust.

Ultimately, though, matters such as these should be investigated by the Election Commission (EC), and not the Supreme Court. It is the EC which should find out if any parliamentarian lied on the papers they filed and then decide on the appropriate punishment as defined by the Constitution. With general elections approaching, a stronger, more independent EC would help solve not only the dual nationality issue but also inspire confidence in the electorate at a time when its independence is greatly needed. The two cases, both, involving the PPP MPs, suggests an ominous turn again towards a confrontation between the judiciary and the PPP-led executive. One sign of this is the re-designation of Rehman Malik as adviser following his suspension. This confrontation must be avoided.

Published In The Express Tribune, June 6th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (12)

  • Discostu
    Jun 5, 2012 - 9:38PM

    The only signal that the reappointment of Mr. Malik is that their is no accountability. And at the end of the day there is no shame. Unlike Ms. Ispahani, this man tried to deceive and bluff his way through. He is a liar that should be shunned from any political office, but alas, in this Islamic Republic, only twitter and facebook are offensive, not shameless liars.

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  • Arif
    Jun 5, 2012 - 10:07PM

    Election Commission failed that is why all these cases went to the court. The whole system in Pakistan sucks, no one is accountable for anything, only weak person spend time in Jail and all the big guys either turn verdict in their favor or sign NRO and walk out free to rule us.

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  • Muzaffar
    Jun 5, 2012 - 10:47PM

    Dear Editor,
    What do you suggest in case the EC is found sleeping ?

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  • marium lodhi
    Jun 5, 2012 - 10:55PM

    And we still hope for free elections ???? very worrisome time ahead.

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  • Mirza
    Jun 6, 2012 - 1:23AM

    A very balanced editorial and I appreciate the honesty and fairness by ET.
    Let us dispel two misconceptions. The last electoral lists were prepared by Mush’s govt and not PPP govt. In fact the PPP leadership was not even in the country and the lists were to provide advantage to ruling parties not the PPP. The second lie is the election commission favored PPP in last elections. That EC was set up by Mush Govt for his own goals and not the PPP. It was their job/failure to not screen the candidates during their nomination process. Even four years after elections, the EC headed by SC judge is still not doing its job. The EC should do its job and let the SC take care of the 20 thousand cases pending for hearing for several decades. The EC and High Courts can take care of the petty political issues not the SC which was in a hurry to convict the elected PM but taking time against Babar Awan after he parted ways with PPP. All dual nationality cases must have started and decided at the same time. This selective justice does not pass the smell test. The SC has been wasting time from sugar prices to the non-degree holders without any results, while terrorists get released and Baluchistan is burning.Recommend

  • Syed Hamid Ahmed
    Jun 6, 2012 - 1:49AM

    The election commission is sleeping because the CEC is serving most senior Judge of SC. There could be one of the following reasons:
    i). The actual boss of CEC is (CJP) not allowing him to take on such cases.
    ii). CEC does not have courage to start parallel (thought legally and constitutionally rightful) proceedings.
    iii). CEC is incompetent.

    CJ is not respecting the constitutional domain of ECP, especially when it is headed by the most senior Judge of SC, tell a lot about mind set of CJP.

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  • Usman
    Jun 6, 2012 - 5:08AM

    Also can we put to rest another misconception – barring someone from dual nationality is not an attempt to gauge his/her patriotism. In fact, the law is designed to prevent the individual from being exploited by any foreign government (by threatening to seize property for example) to act against Pakistan. Why is this so hard to understand for some people?

    Why do we keep spinning this into a ‘patriotism cannot be gauged by how many passports one have’ argument? I’m sure it was done deliberately to take the focus away from the real issue.

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  • ZM
    Jun 6, 2012 - 7:31AM

    Does EC exist in the land of pure.

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  • vasan
    Jun 6, 2012 - 11:21AM

    I agree with Mirza’s posting. For democracy to flourish, every organ of the govt be it Judiciary or the EC or the parliament have to function without stepping onto the jurisdiction of the other. The SC could have referred this to the EC to investigate and decide the course of action rather than acting on all cases like this. May be they should have referred to the Memogate case to the Parliament itself.
    The EC in India is very independent and very active. Mr Seshan who made the EC very active and correctly so is fondly referred to as “Al Seshan” and that is not for nothing. Even in state elections of India, EC is very active and doing a great job.

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  • canzeon
    Jun 6, 2012 - 4:38PM

    Woe begone the society where no Daniel comes for judgement – and instead the game is all to self serving megalomaniacs. Why all these unprecedented suo motos and weired interpretitions just to malign a particular group of people?

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  • Imran
    Jun 7, 2012 - 5:44AM

    Good editorial. Once again our CJ is usurping the powers of the Legislative branch of the Govt, the Speaker. This CJ has been giving improper and unconstitutional judgments during the last two years, causing serious damage to our democracy and freedom , stability and resultantly the economy. Its about time he should be asked or forced to resign. Otherwise his continuing in office will be disastrous for the country.. He is on a journey of personal vendetta and is overly ambitious, power hungry and has low legal acumen.

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  • Huma
    Jun 16, 2012 - 8:35PM

    The topic of the piece should have been ‘rich’ Pakistanis who hold dual nationalities cannot be loyal to either country’ because that is the strata you focused on. There was nothing constructive or enlightening about this piece other than repetition of what every Pakistani already knows; non residents have a superficial interest in the country and they are arm chair critics and dual nationals living in Pakistan will bail once the going gets tough.I have a question – how do you define loyalty or patriotism? Most Pakistanis will jump at the opportunity to live aboard or acquire another passport. Just because they can’t and have to suffer through hyper-inflation, power outages, security threats etc and are ‘stuck’ living in Pakistan does not mean they are loyal. Your article does not convince me at all.

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