ISLAMABAD: Dr Farooq Sattar, a senior leader of Muttahida Qaumi Movement, on Tuesday filed a petition with the Supreme Court, challenging the authority of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to collect declarations on dual nationality from lawmakers.
The decision to fight a legal battle on the dual nationality issue has been taken by the MQM at a time when the deadline given to lawmakers to submit the declarations is set to expire in a few days.
The ECP will decide the fate of the lawmakers who do not do so by the specified date at a meeting to be held next week.
Dr Sattar, believed to be the main force behind the move to provide constitutional cover to the lawmakers holding dual nationality, recently filed his declaration with the ECP, but around a dozen lawmakers from his party are among those who are yet to do so.
In the MQM petition formulated by Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, it has been argued that it has yet to be decided whether after 20th amendment, the ECP can ask incumbent members of parliament and the provincial assemblies to furnish fresh affidavits.
The petition says the ECP has held that those failing to submit fresh declarations by the deadline, extended till Nov 30, will stand disqualified, implying that even the legislators not holding citizenship of a foreign country will also be hit. “This can and must not be the mandate of law let alone have a constitutional backing,” the petition reads.
The court has been requested to take up the petition before the deadline, preferably before a full court, since it involves a number of constitutional questions.
The petition says the provisions of the Constitution dealing with the qualification and disqualification (of a lawmaker) have a strong bearing on the constitution of parliament, the provincial assemblies and the committees of the houses. The houses and the committees have made and are making important decisions and the legality and validity of the process can be linked with the interpretation of the constitutional provisions.
Therefore, the petition reads, the issue is important and has an extraterritorial impact on the Pakistanis who also enjoy the privilege of being a citizen of another friendly country.
It requested the court to consider the constitutional questions and complete hearing with the assistance of all stakeholders.
The petition says the court has held time and again that all constitutional provisions have equal importance and none of them is superior to the other.
Therefore, all the provisions of the Constitution relating to the qualification and disqualification carry the same weight and one cannot be taken out of context nor the limitation of one can be superimposed on the other.
The court has been requested to fix the case for hearing on Thursday.