Dual nationality: Pak SC disqualifies 11 lawmakers

Dual nationality: Pak SC disqualifies 11 lawmakers

Pakistan's Supreme Court today disqualified 11 federal and provincial lawmakers for having dual nationality and said Interior Minister Rehman Malik stands to lose his membership of the Senate as he had made a false declaration about his citizenship.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry said in an order that Malik had violated an election law by declaring that he did not have foreign citizenship when he contested polls to the Senate or upper house of parliament in 2008.

This was the second time in three months that the apex court has acted against 60-year-old Malik – his membership of the Senate was suspended in June.

Earlier reports said that the Supreme Court disqualified Malik along with 11 other lawmakers for violating the Constitution by holding dual nationality but the situation was later clarified.

Among the 11 disqualified lawmakers was Farahnaz Ispahani, a close aide of President Asif Ali Zardari and the wife of former envoy to the US, Husain Haqqani.

"As regards the case of Senator A Rehman Malik, it may be noted that at the time of filing of nomination papers for election to the Senate held in the year 2008, he had made a false declaration to the effect that he was not subject to any of the disqualifications specified in Article 63 of the Constitution or any other law…," the bench said in its order.

The bench ruled this amounted to a violation of the Representation of the People Act, which states that a "person shall not be qualified from being elected or chosen as a member of an assembly unless he is sagacious, righteous and non-profligate and honest and ameen (faithful)".

The court further declared that Malik, in view of his false declaration in 2008, "cannot be considered sagacious, righteous, honest and ameen".

The bench said both the Chairman of the Senate and the Election Commission will have to take action against Malik for the false declaration.

The Supreme Court issued the order in response to a petition filed by a man named Mehmood Akhtar Naqvi, who had asked it to disqualify all lawmakers having dual nationality.

After the apex court suspended Malik's membership of the Senate in June on the ground that he had not provided proof of renouncing his British citizenship, Malik resigned as a lawmaker.

Malik then contested a bye-election to the Senate in July and was re-elected. The fate of Malik's current membership of the Senate will depend on the outcome of action that will have to be taken by against him by the Chairman of the Senate and the Election Commission, legal experts said.

Announcing the verdict‚ the bench said that under Article 63 (1C) of the Constitution‚ no lawmaker can hold dual nationality.

The other lawmakers who were disqualified are Zahid Iqbal‚ Farhad Muhammad Khan and Jamil Malik (all members of parliament), Muhammad Ikhlaq‚ Ashraf Chohan‚ Chaudhry Waseem Qadir, Amna Buttar and Nadeem Khadim (all members of the Punjab Assembly, and Ahmad Ali Shah Nadia and Gabool Sindh (both members of the Sindh Assembly).

The disqualified lawmakers belong to the ruling Pakistan People's Party, opposition PML-N and Muttahida Qaumi Movement, a key ally in the governments at the centre and in Sindh.

The Supreme Court directed the Election Commission to take action against all the disqualified lawmakers and to submit a report in this regard within two weeks.

Talking to reporters outside the Supreme Court‚ Interior Minister Malik said it would not be fair for him to comment till he had read the complete judgment.

Noting that he respected the court and its decisions, Malik said: "My case was segregated."

The court further directed authorities to withdraw all privileges provided to the lawmakers and to recoup the salaries and allowances they had drawn from the national exchequer.

The court further directed all lawmakers to submit a fresh affidavit declaring that they do not hold dual nationality.

Anwar Mansur Khan‚ the counsel for Malik, clarified that the apex court’s ruling did not affect his client’s current membership of parliament and that he would continue to be a Senator and a federal minister.

He said the court had referred the issue of a false declaration made by Malik about his dual nationality at the time of contesting the 2008 election to the Chairman of the Senate to decide in accordance with the law.

Malik was granted British citizenship after he went into self-exile in the UK due to political victimisation in Pakistan. He completed the process for renouncing his British citizenship only in May this year.

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