The Lahore High Court on Thursday sought record, from the Election Commission of Pakistan, of the parliamentarians whose membership has been suspended by Supreme Court for holding dual nationalities.
Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial issued the order while hearing a petition seeking the disqualification of PML-N minority MPA Rana Asif Mahmood.
Justice Bandial said he wanted to look at the record to see whether the membership of the parliamentarians was suspended for having dual nationalities or for taking an oath of loyalty to another country.
The chief justice also gave the MPA’s counsel “the last chance” to defend his client.
Chief Justice Bandial noted, in the order, that prima facie the respondent is a Canadian citizen.
He described evasive answers given by Mahmood’s counsel, Advocate Jamshed Rehmatullah, to the questions asked by the court as “an attempt to frustrate the course of justice and tantamount to contempt of court”.
On Thursday, petitioner’s counsel Advocate Saiful Malook, requested the high court to suspend Mahmood’s membership, noting that the Supreme Court has already suspended memberships of several parliamentarians for holding more than one nationality.
Mahmood, he said, was a Canadian citizen.
Opposing the plea, Advocate Rehmatullah remarked that his client was not a citizen of Canada but “only a national”.
He said the constitutional bar on parliamentarians who had dual nationalities did not apply to his client.
At this point, Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that there was no difference between citizenship and nationality.
He remarked that the respondent’s counsel was trying to mislead the court, adding that Mahmood’s membership would be suspended.
Rana Asif Mahmood should not spoil his integrity to protect a “short-term political office”, said Justice Bandial. The matter will be taken up again on the next hearing on August 3.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2012.