PESHAWAR: A US national has moved the Peshawar High Court seeking orders for the federal government to grant him Pakistan’s nationality for marrying a local woman over two years ago.

The petition was jointly filed by him and his Pakistani wife praying the court to declare him entitled to the country’s citizenship.

The petitioners also sought interim relief from the court requesting to direct the relevant officials of the federal government, including interior secretary, director general (immigration and passport) and National Database and Registration Authority chairman, to initiate work to grant him citizenship until the final disposal of the case.

The petition is filed through senior advocate Saifullah Muhib Kakakhel, who has contended that the US national had converted to Islam from Christianity before marrying the other petitioner, who currently lives in Peshawar.

He married local woman over two years ago

The American citizen said that he wanted to get Pakistani nationality with his religion as Islam so that he could go to Saudi Arabia to perform Haj and Umrah.

He said that his current US passport still declared Christianity as his religion.

The couple contended that every person born in Pakistan or married to a Pakistani man or woman was entitled to nationality by virtue of international law on the subject to which Pakistan, too, was a signatory.

They said that they got married in Karachi on March 6, 2020, and had a daughter from the wedlock, who was born on April 20, 2022.

The petitioners that they had moved to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa due to the poor ‘law and order situation’ in Karachi.

The petition said that as the US citizen had converted to Islam, he could not adjust anymore in the US society and his baby girl was also secure here.

They said the man was given the Pakistan Origin Card by the government in June 2021 after thorough scrutiny by the government and its agencies, but as the POC was valid for certain period of time, he had invoked the jurisdiction of the high court for getting Pakistani citizenship.

The petitioners contended that the Federal Shariat Court had already declared unconstitutional and against Quran and Sunnah Section 10(2) of the Citizenship Act, 1951, under which the wife of a Pakistani national was entitled to the country’s citizenship but the same was denied to the foreign husband of a Pakistani woman.

They added that on the same analogy, the high court recently passed a judgement in favour of a petitioner, who also faced the same issue.

The petitioners contended that by signing the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Pakistan had committed to eliminating gender-based discrimination, but the federal government didn’t make any changes to the Citizenship Act even though the FSC had issued directives for the purpose in clear terms.

They further contended that non-provision of citizenship to the US citizen was also in violation of the fundamental rights provided in the Constitution, including protection of a family.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2022

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