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A controversial order


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GONE are 11 members of the assemblies, national and provincial, disqualified yesterday by the Supreme Court for holding dual nationalities. In disqualifying the MNAs and MPAs, the court has done the right thing. In the face of a clear-cut constitutional provision barring members of parliament or the provincial assemblies from holding the nationality of another country, there is little argument for such citizens to be representatives of the people. Perhaps when the democratic process is more stable, well regarded and mature, the question of whether parliamentarians can hold the citizenship of another country can be revisited. But in the Pakistan of today, the honour, privilege and responsibility of representing the people ought to fall only to those who do not have conflicting citizenship demands. That it has taken until the very end of the terms of the present assemblies for the law to be enforced is perhaps unfortunate, but that does not detract from the reality that the decision is correct.

Having said that, there are two troubling aspects to yesterday’s short order. First, the court has once again circumvented the process of disqualification: under Article 63(2) of the constitution, the speakers of the relevant House or the Chairman of the Senate must determine whether a question of disqualification has arisen. If the answer is in the affirmative, the matter has to be referred to the Election Commission of Pakistan for a decision. To be sure, the question of disqualification has clearly arisen here and the ECP would have no real option but to disqualify the senator, MNAs and MPAs. But in constitutional matters, form and procedure can be just as important as substance. Already, in the case of the Speaker of the National Assembly ruling in favour of then-prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, it has been seen that the court can step in when other constitutional office holders deviate from the law. So in bypassing Article 63(2) in yesterday’s order, the court has pushed the boundaries of the constitution in an unwelcome manner.

Second, in directing the ECP to institute legal proceedings against former senator Rehman Malik because he lied to the court and so “cannot be considered sagacious, righteous, honest and ameen within the contemplation of Section 99(1)(f) of the [Representation of the Peoples] Act of 1976” is an unwelcome invocation of a controversial law. Few may lament the political demise of Mr Malik but the chosen route to punish him can prove to be the thin edge of the wedge in a country where religious invocations and the enforcement of amorphous moral standards are already crowding out the space for rational and reasonable discourse.

Comments (12) Closed

baba kamran from man Sep 21, 2012 09:44pm
dont u think its to late now
Abdul Jalil Khan Gandapur Sep 21, 2012 08:49am
It's a good joke that RM belongs to victimized party, rather his party had left the nation of 180million peoples victimized.
M. Asghar Sep 21, 2012 08:40am
The Aex Court's judgement on the double nationality issue is clear and all those who used and misused this window has to the price as required by law. Here, Mr Malik's has been, particularl,y flagrant, because he did everything to misguide the court.
Taaruf Sep 21, 2012 08:32am
A welcome positive move to a journey which had to start decade before! It was sheer injustice to the people of Land of pure that since years such politicians were paving their way into politics of pakistan, who had been having dual nationality. They appeared prior elections and encouraged personalized politics accordingly. Such MNA's and MPA's have been a cancer for our society who dominated a culture of double policy of hegemony. They rule over people and roll on them anf add millions of accounts. When a situation like crisis occurs, such politicians leave society in the lurch and flew out of country.
NON Sep 21, 2012 03:43pm
why blame Zardari behide everything? this nation deserves a person like him.
bakhtawar hussain Sep 21, 2012 11:04pm
Mr. Jalil only a supreme court doing wrong becouse in past this cj also leaved the country on fired and taked the oath of PCO judge. not once but twice. Sep 21, 2012 10:12am
all problems for ppp started due to Mr Zardari becoming president while his previous record was not good. All the time & energies of ppp govt is wasted in protecting him ...... What a misfortunate for ppp & Pakistan .....
Syed Anees Raza Sep 22, 2012 03:45am
Courts are going well..
jalaluddin S. Hussain Sep 21, 2012 11:44pm
As a Canadian-Pakistani with great love for my country of origin, I feel the question of dual nationality ( I am a dual citizen myself) is very important. Therefore let this all-important question be included in the platform of all the political parties fighting the forthcoming elections. Then only the members of newly-elected Pakistani Assemblies will be able to formulate new dual-citizenship laws and decide whether dual citizenship members can properly represent their constituents or not. We, who live outside the country, are no less patriot than those who live inside the country.
observer Sep 21, 2012 07:48am
Never mind, Mr. Malik belongs to a party that is victimized even when it is in power.
Jaffar Hussain Sep 21, 2012 10:03pm
Agree with Gandapur, PPP of today and victimized? What a joke.
ali Sep 21, 2012 03:16pm
Not many countries allow dual nationals to hold an elected office. In the case of Pakistan most of the elected members holding dual nationalities are in Pakistan to make money illegally and will leave once they are out of power. If they have love for Pakistan they can surrender their second citizenship and continue to hold their present offices and serve Pakistan.