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LAHORE: The Supreme Court on Thursday directed three newly elected senators to submit affidavits that they had permanently and irrevocably renounced their foreign nationality.

Earlier, the three senators-elect — Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s sister Sadia Abbasi and Nuzhat Sadiq of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf — appeared before a three-judge SC bench hearing a suo motu case against dual nationality of judges, officials of the courts and the government and members of parliament. The bench is headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar.

The fourth senator-elect — Haroon Akhtar Khan of the PML-N — did not appear before the court and a request for adjournment was made on behalf of his counsel Barrister Syed Ali Zafar.

The bench had already restrained the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) from issuing victory notifications of the four newly elected senators.

On pointed out by the ECP, the bench also stopped it from issuing the notification of another newly elected independent senator from Balochistan, Kuhda Babar, and issued a notice to him.

They are required to declare that they have permanently and irrevocably renounced their foreign nationality

The three senators-elect, who appeared before the bench, submitted documents in support of their claim that they had already renounced their foreign citizenship before the Senate polls.

Chaudhry Sarwar said that he had relinquished his UK nationality on July 12, 2013, before becoming governor of Punjab, while Ms Sadiq said she had renounced her US citizenship in 2012.

Chief Justice Nisar was surprised to learn that Ms Abbasi had surrendered her US nationality days before seeking nomination papers for the Senate elections.

“They are the representatives of Pakistan who first avail dual nationality for foreign benefits and surrender the same to take benefit from their own country,” the chief justice remarked.

The bench expressed concern when PTI leader Andleeb Abbas, who had challenged the candidature of Ms Abbasi and Ms Sadiq before the ECP, stated that Ms Abbasi had also remained MNA till 2,008.

Chief Justice Nisar said that the court would see the matter of Ms Abbasi’s qualification from her previous stint as a member of the National Assembly.

All the three senators-elect failed to satisfy the bench on a query whether the renunciation of their foreign citizenship was permanent in nature or reversible.

Therefore, the bench appointed two senior lawyers — Bilal Minto and Khalid Javed Khan — as amici curiae to assist the court on the question whether the renunciation of foreign nationality claimed by the senators was permanent under the laws of the UK and the US.

The bench fixed the matter for March 13 at Islamabad, but later announced that it would resume hearing on March 10 at the Lahore registry to decide the issue before the election for new chairman and deputy chairman of the Senate scheduled for March 12.

The chief justice observed that the court did not intend to restrict any senator from participating in voting for the Senate’s chairman and deputy chairman.

Published in Dawn, March 9th, 2018