A day after the National Assembly refused to get fresh declarations from its members stating they were not dual nationals, Senate followed suit by declining to provide details of any such members to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
ECP confirmed that it had received a letter from the Senate secretariat on Wednesday which was an exact copy of the letter it had received from the National Assembly a day before.
The commission had written to the secretariats of parliament and provincial assemblies to get declarations from every member of their respective house stating that they were only citizens of Pakistan and held no other nationality.
Under Article 63 (1) (c) of the Constitution, a person is not eligible to become a member of parliament or a provincial assembly if he/she possesses any foreign nationality. The constitutional provision was not adhered to till recently, when the Supreme Court disqualified 11 lawmakers, from different political parties, proven to be dual nationals on September 20.
The court then ordered the ECP to get fresh declarations from every member within 15 days – but both houses of parliament have chosen not to comply.
Officials said that the Senate secretariat, similar to the NA secretariat, has asserted that there was no provision in the rules of business of the house to collect declarations from members, and advised the ECP to obtain the same directly from members.
Both the letters sent by the secretariats were faxed to Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Fakharuddin G Ebrahim. The commission will meet soon to consider the letters from both houses of parliament, an official added.
The official said there was a possibility that the secretaries of the two houses of parliament will be summoned by the ECP to explain their position. He pointed out that under Article 220 of the Constitution all authorities of the federation and the provinces were bound to assist the ECP in carrying out its duties. He indicated that if the attitude of the secretaries remained ‘inappropriate’, they could face contempt charges.
The official said a deadline of 15 days had been set in the letters written to the various secretariats, which will expire on October 9. A final decision on how to move forward will be taken after the date. He said the option of approaching all the members directly to seek affidavits was also a possibility.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 4th, 2012.