Feeling the pinch of a fresh Supreme Court directive, Interior Minister Rehman Malik has backtracked from his earlier statement that he is in possession of a list of several parliamentarians who have escaped disqualification by hiding their dual nationality status.
Malik, one of the several MPs facing disqualification by the Supreme Court on the same grounds, told media that the number of lawmakers possessing dual nationality was far higher than those who were actually disqualified.
He, however, denied having any knowledge of dual national MPs and refuted media reports after the apex court asked him to furnish the list and reveal the names of all those parliamentarians who possessed nationalities of countries other than Pakistan.
The minister categorically denied having any such ‘list’ in a statement issued by a spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior late on Saturday.
“I cannot say anything on such data as the information is merely based on hearsay and hence, I cannot make public such information,” the spokesperson quoted Interior Minister Malik as saying in response to a question.
The ministry rejected claims that Malik possessed any list of parliamentarians with dual nationality or having collected any such data to begin with. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is the highest forum to respond to such queries, added the spokesperson.
Media reports had quoted the interior minister as saying that proceedings were being conducted against particular members of the assemblies whereas a large number of members had concealed their dual citizenship and he would produce a list of such members if so directed by the court or the government.
Following his statement, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry directed the office on Saturday to write a letter to Malik asking him to assist the court with the list.
“Thus, they (Rehman Malik and journalist Umar Cheema) are required to assist the court to ensure that there is no discrimination amongst the parliamentarians and members of the provincial assemblies, who being the holders of dual citizenship under Article 63(1)(c) of the Constitution are disqualified from being elected or chosen as, and from being, members of the Majlis-e-Shoora (parliament)”.
“Keeping in view these provisions, it is to be observed that the above noted persons, namely, Umar Cheema, Senator A Rehman Malik, and all citizens of Pakistan are under a constitutional duty to be loyal to the State of Pakistan and obedient to the Constitution and the law.”
Earlier on August 29, the ECP had asked the Senate, National Assembly, provincial assemblies, and the Ministries of Interior, Foreign Affairs and Overseas Pakistanis to provide it with information about dual national elected representatives. In addition, the commission had invited the general public to provide information as well.
An ECP official had revealed to The Express Tribune that the Ministry of Interior had written a letter to the commission saying it did not have any such data.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 24th, 2012.