PM rejects criticism of dual nationals holding public office

Published September 11, 2020
Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses the launch ceremony of the Roshan Digital Account on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV
Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses the launch ceremony of the Roshan Digital Account on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV

ISLAMABAD: Expressing displeasure over criticism of dual nationals holding public office, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday stressed the need for tapping what he called “resource pool” of Pakistani experts and professionals living abroad for uplifting of the country.

“I don’t know why people say that dual nationals cannot get any public office and cannot become a minister and why they [people] move courts every other day,” the prime minister said while launching the Roshan Pakistan Digital Account — a facility which will provide innovative banking solutions to millions of non-resident Pakistanis seeking to undertake fund transfers, bill payments and investment activities in Pakistan.

“We do not have a bigger asset than that [overseas Pakistanis]. Best minds, professionals and entrepreneurs are outside the country. When we will create [conducive] conditions in the country, this big resource pool can return to the country,” he added.

The prime minister recalled that when he had established Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital, it created an opportunity for overseas Pakistani experts and they returned and ran the hospital. “Similarly, all major hospitals in the Middle East are being run by foreign doctors; rather the entire Middle East was established by foreigners,” he said.

Launches facility that will provide banking solutions to non-resident Pakistanis seeking to undertake fund transfers, bill payments and investment activities

The prime minister and members of his cabinet holding dual nationality recently came under severe criticism when the assets and status of dual nationality of all non-elected cabinet members — special assistants to the prime minister (SAPM) and advisers — were made public.

SAPM on Digital Pakistan Tania Aidrus resigned from her post due to the criticism levelled against her and the government because of her dual citizenship. In a tweet, Ms Aidrus (who also holds Canadian nationality) had said: “Criticism levied towards the state as a consequence of my citizenship status is clouding the purpose of Digital Pakistan.”

Prime Minister Khan said overseas Pakistanis were the most patriotic and their expertise was not utilised in the country. “I know many overseas Pakistanis; they are more patriotic than those living in the country,” he added.

The prime minister termed the launching of Roshan Pakistan Digital Account a historic step and expressed the hope that the facility would help increase investment by overseas Pakistanis in the country.

He expressed satisfaction that despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Pakistan’s exports had increased. “On the other hand, exports of India and Bangladesh declined during the pandemic,” he said.

Roshan Pakistan Digital Account is a major initiative by the State Bank together with eight other commercial banks operating in the country. These banks will provide innovative banking solutions for millions of non-resident Pakistanis and for the first time in Pakistan’s history, they will be able to open an account in any bank through an entirely digital and online process, without having to visit any bank, embassy or consulate.

In order to open an account, all documentation requirements will need to be completed and it will take 48 hours to open the account, according to an official statement. The customer can choose whether to open a rupee-dominated account, foreign currency or both and funds in the account will be fully repatriable, without the need for any regulatory approval.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Khan chaired a meeting held to review availability of wheat in the country. The meeting expressed satisfaction over wheat supply and demand and decided that the Trade Corporation of Pakistan would also be allowed to import the commodity.

Meeting with Uzbek deputy PM

During a meeting with Uzbekistan’s Deputy Prime Minister for Investment and Foreign Economic Relations Sardor Umurzaqov, Prime Minister Khan underlined that there was no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan and highlighted Pakistan’s positive contribution to the Afghan peace process.

The prime minister stressed that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan was of paramount importance for Pakistan and the region. He expressed the hope that intra-Afghan negotiations would commence at the earliest and culminate in a negotiated political settlement, thus contributing to peace, stability and prosperity in the region and beyond.

The prime minister reaffirmed Pakistan’s desire to work with Uzbekistan to strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation, bilaterally and in the region.

Matters of mutual interest, including the Covid-19 pandemic, bilateral cooperation, regional connectivity and regional peace and security, came under discussion during the meeting.

Prime Minister Khan underlined that Pakistan and Uzbekistan enjoyed cordial and brotherly relations. He warmly recalled his last meeting with President Mirziyoyev and mentioned that Pakistan keenly awaited his visit once the global pandemic situation settles down. He also highlighted the potential for enhanced trade with increased regional connectivity as a result of different planned railway projects.

The Uzbek deputy prime minister conveyed the cordial greetings and best wishes of the Uzbek president and noted that President Mirziyoyev looked forward to visiting Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2020

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