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Casting doubt on the patriotism of overseas Pakistanis is gross injustice: Altaf Hussain
Appeals to the Chief Justice of Pakistan and other judges of the Supreme Court to review their judgment on dual nationality
Political parties should also reconsider their stance on the issue of dual nationality.
The Founder and Leader of Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) Mr Altaf Hussain has said that casting doubt on the patriotism of overseas Pakistanis and disallowing them to take part in the elections was gross injustice. He appealed to the Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr Justice Iftakhar Muhammad Chaudhry and other judges of the Supreme Court to review their judgment on the issue of dual nationality in the larger interest of the country and the nation.
He also called upon other political parties to reconsider their stance on the dual nationality. He said that the president of Pakistan should hold a referendum on the issue of dual nationality and Pakistanis living in foreign countries should be asked if they wanted to take part in elections and exercise their right to vote.
Mr Hussain expressed these views at a meeting in Lal Qila Ground in Azizabad that was specifically convened on the issue of dual nationality. Deputy Conveners and members of the Co-ordination Committee, Senators, MNAs, MPAs, ministers, office-bearers of various organizational wings, members of resident committees, members of the council of professionals and in-charges of Karachi sectors were present in the meeting.
Addressing political leaders, analysts, lawyers, judges, and people from different spheres of life, Mr Hussain presented the case of overseas Pakistanis having dual nationalities in a forceful manner by giving cogent arguments and references. He invited everyone to think on the issue of dual nationality.
Mr Hussain said that he was expressing the sentiments of hundreds of thousands of Overseas Pakistanis who always pray for Pakistan in difficult times and making efforts for their country. These Pakistanis celebrate 23rd March and 14th August wherever they be throughout the world including Europe and the United States.
He said that Pakistanis living abroad had to go out because of force of circumstances. They got education and started businesses in foreign countries. These Pakistanis sent huge money to Pakistan in terms of foreign remittances that was the lifeblood of the economy of the country.
He asked if it was not sheer injustice to deprive these Pakistanis from their right of voting and not allowing them to contest elections. He asked what the rationale behind the federal ministry for overseas Pakistanis was if the overseas Pakistanis had nothing to do with Pakistan. He said that the people at the helm of affairs in Pakistan, policy-making institutions and members of the parliament must deliberate on the issue anew.
Mr Hussain asked the audience what they would do if they were forced by the circumstances to leave their city or their country. They replied that they would migrate to other places or countries.
He said that even the Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) had to leave Makkah when the persecution of the infidels increased and life in Makkah was made difficult for him and his companions. He not only left Makkah himself but asked his companions also to leave Makkah. Hence leaving once city or country and settling somewhere else because of circumstances was the way of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
He asked if someone who was born and raised in Pakistan would become disloyal to Pakistan if they had to acquire dual nationality because of circumstances. He asked if they would be called less loyal to the country where they were born and where their elders were buried.
Mr Hussain asked if the acquisition of dual nationality takes away the right to be the loyal citizen of Pakistan. He asked what the fault of the people was who had to leave their homeland because of the tyranny of martial laws in order to save their lives. He said that even though these people acquired dual nationality yet their hearts continued to beat for their country.
He asked if their loyalty to their country could be called into question just because they had acquired nationality of some other country as well. He asked if it was not equal to ridiculing their patriotism.
He said that not everyone in the country had the same fortune as Nawaz Sharif and his family who were given relief by governments to stay in a palatial abode in Saudi Arabia as a state guest. Had Nawaz Sharif and his family gone to a western country instead of Saudi Arabia, they would have to apply for political asylum after the expiry of their visas.
He said that the MQM workers who were employed in Saudi Arabia were handed over to Pakistani authorities during the ferocious state operation against the MQM. They were subjected to inhuman torture in the custody.
He said that the Supreme Court should also take notice of the fact that if someone is subjected to torture by the state he is left with no other option but to settle in some other country and acquire its citizenship. He said that those who force people to leave their country should also be punished.
Shedding light on the services of overseas Pakistanis, Mr Hussain said that the services rendered overseas Pakistan when the country was devastated by natural disasters were highly praiseworthy.
He said that whenever the economy of the country is in deep troubles, the overseas Pakistan are pleaded to send remittances. He asked what the logic was to bar these Pakistanis to take part in elections when their money was so much needed to support the economy of the country.
He said that the decision to proscribe overseas Pakistani from elections would have far reaching consequences for the country as their love for the country was being ridiculed they were being isolated from the rest of the country.
He said that holding dual nationality was permitted in various other countries as well. He asked if various Pakistanis having dual nationalities were not members of the British Parliament. He asked if the Pakistanis living in foreign countries were prohibited from contesting the election on the same premise, it would be a great national loss as they would not be able to serve Pakistan in an effective manner.
He said that Mrs Sonia Gandhi was the head of the ruling Congress party in India was not Indian by birth, yet she was allowed to take part in the election for the office of the prime minister. Father of the US president Mr Barack Obama was not American by birth, yet Mr Obama was allowed to be the president of the most powerful country of the world.
Mr Hussain argued that the decision of allowing Pakistanis having dual nationality to stand in elections should be left to the people of Pakistan. The decision of the people should be respected if they were willing to elect them by their votes.
He said that the issue should not be looked from the standpoint of differences between the executive and the judiciary. It should be looked into in a broader perspective. He said that the constitution had been amended in the past on several occasions, and it can be changed even today.
He asked the people opposing the dual nationality to reconsider their stance lest they should be forced into exile and settle in some other country because of circumstances. He said that he was well aware of the pain of living in exile as he was himself away from the country for the past 22 years. He assured the overseas Pakistanis that the MQM would continue to raise its voice for their rights at every forum and restore their lawful rights.