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Lately, it has been discussed a lot in our judiciary and media that Dual Nationals should not be the part of the Elected Assemblies. Every time I hear or read some pathetic comment on this topic I ask myself “Really”.
So now if a person is holding a dual nationality his patriotism is in doubt. What a joke? Most of the people do not agree with me and start debating that, it is the part of the constitution and anything that is done against the constitution cannot be patriotic. After listening to the talk shows, views of political parties, and my discussions with friends and family for a while I decided to put my thought in this writing.
There are couple of factors that Pakistanis are completely missing when they are thinking and or discussing the issue of Dual Nationality. To understand the complete concept, the constitutional writings and ground realities one needs to go back to early 70’s and before. When Pakistan came into existence its population was approximately 76 million combined (east and west Pakistan) and approximately 34 million in West Pakistan. By 70’s the population of Pakistan almost doubled to 66 million (west Pakistan only). The resources were limited and to find better living, people started moving out. Initially the biggest chunk moved to Middle East and some to the other countries around the world including USA, Canada, Australia, UK, Germany, Turkey, Russia, South Africa, and many other countries. Every country has their own laws for the people who are coming from other countries. Some only issued work permits, some issued resident cards to let people work in their countries, as those countries were and are still in need of talented and skilled human resource.
Here are few example from Wikipidia (that has the legal references available to all he following claims), United States Chief Justice John Rutledge ruled "a man may, at the same time, enjoy the rights of citizenship under two governments," but the US requires applicants for naturalization to symbolically renounce all prior allegiance to any other nation or sovereignty as part of the naturalization ceremony. In the case of a British citizen, however, the UK honors renunciation of citizenship only if done with competent UK authorities. Consequently, British citizens naturalized in the US remain British citizens in the eyes of the British government even after they renounce British allegiance to the satisfaction of U.S. authorities.
The Republic of Ireland frames its citizenship laws as relating to "the island of Ireland", thereby extending them to Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. Therefore, anyone born in Northern Ireland who meets the requirements for being an Irish citizen through birth on the island of Ireland (or a child born outside of Ireland but with a qualifying parent) may exercise an entitlement to Irish citizenship by acting in such a way that only an Irish citizen is entitled to do (such as applying for an Irish passport). Conversely, that such a person has not acted in this way does not necessarily mean that they are not entitled to be an Irish citizen. See Irish nationality law and British nationality law. People born in Northern Ireland are British citizens on the same basis as people born elsewhere in the United Kingdom. People born in Northern Ireland may choose to hold a British passport, an Irish passport, or both.
On the other extreme, some countries consider multiple citizenship undesirable and take measures to prevent it. This may take the following forms:
§ Automatic loss of citizenship if another citizenship is acquired voluntarily (such as Azerbaijan, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, India, Indonesia, Japan,Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Nepal, the Netherlands, Norway). In the case of the Czech Republic, two specific exceptions apply: those who acquired other citizenship after being illegally deprived of citizenship by the Communist regime of 1948–1990, or whose Slovak citizenship as of September 31, 1992, caused automatic loss of Czech citizenship upon the partition of Czechoslovakia, may apply for restoration of Czech citizenship without losing another. Saudi Arabian citizenship may be withdrawn if a Saudi citizen obtains a foreign citizenship without the permission of the Prime Minister.
§ Possible (but not automatic) loss of citizenship if people with multiple citizenships do not renounce their other citizenships after reaching the age of majority or within a certain period of time after obtaining multiple citizenships (such as Japan and Montenegro. In Montenegro loss is automatic with some exceptions.)
For a shorter while one can stay in another country without getting into the issue of Dual nationality, but as time passed and the Economic problems of Pakistan increased with the SIX folds in population growth, people started to acquire the Nationality of different countries.
Another very important reason that made people acquire the citizenship of other countries was the legal requirement of the country for example, in order to buy a house or to own a business.
When we look at our constitution with the citizenship act of 1951, Pakistani’s cannot have the dual citizenship. Since independence, the growth of expatriate Pakistani communities in the Middle East, Europe and North America has led to several changes in Pakistani nationality law. Although holding dual citizenship was not permitted under the 1951 law, the Government of Pakistan now recognizes and allows its citizens to also hold the citizenships of 16 countries:
7. New Zealand
Talking about the constitution of Pakistan, one must remember that the constitution of any country is the set of law to live by but is NOT a book from God that cannot have mistakes or incompleteness. Any constitution is written by human beings and they kept the ground realities of the time to write the constitution. Over the time with experience the changes are allowed with the consent of the people of the country and that has happened 18 times in the history of Pakistan (18 amendments).
Let’s see why we should or should not allow the Overseas Pakistani’s to be the part of the electoral process.
According to the Wikipedia, the number of Pakistanis living abroad is almost 7million.
The Pakistani Diaspora refers to overseas Pakistanis, who are Pakistani citizens that have migrated to another country, as well as people of who are of Pakistani descent. According to the Pakistani Government, there are around 7 million Pakistani people living abroad with a vast majority of them residing in the Middle East, Europe and North America. Pakistan ranks 10th in the world for remittances sent home in 2012 at $13 billion.
The above said 7 million Pakistanis who are living in all different countries have the strongest ties with Pakistan and probably love Pakistan more than anything. They are the ones who, (regardless of their second nationality) have to answer the questions of the people of the country they live in. They have set up Pakistani Organizations in every county they are living in. The number of these organizations is more than 350. These overseas Pakistanis have even registered the political parties of Pakistan as Foreign Political party in different countries (where allowed, for instance PPP, MQM, PTI and other parties are registered in USA). They celebrate every Pakistan Day with love, peace and harmony. Overseas Pakistanis are more united as Pakistanis then Sindhi, Balouchi, Pakhtoon, Mohajir, Punjabi or any other sub division. Overseas Pakistanis are have contributed to the betterment of World and brought an honor to the name of the Nation. Pakistanis have been serving in each and every industry around the world including Science, Technology, Manufacturing, Teaching and many more.
Last but not least, let us see what the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has to say about the Dual Nationality:
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states:
(a) ” Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his/her country….” ( Section 21(1) of ICCPR). Overseas Pakistanis with dual nationality claim Pakistan as his/her country; and Pakistan also consider them as their citizens since they hold National Identity Card, Pakistani Passport and the right to vote in the general elections. Therefore, they have the right to be a parliamentarian in Pakistan.
(b) “Everyone has the right to a nationality ” ( Article 15 (1) of UDHR. A Pakistani who acquires the nationality of a foreign country where he resides without surrendering Pakistani citizenship is doing so as a “privilege” to enjoy the benefits of the resident country where he/she currently lives. This does not take away his/her allegiance to Pakistan.
Even though Pakistanis acquired the Nationality of other countries, their hearts are always beating for Pakistan, as that was the country which came into existence with the sacrifice of more than 2 million people.
By: Saqib Mohiuddin