ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan, on Saturday, sought explanation from Minister for Interior Rahman Malik over his claims that there are several members of the parliament and provincial assemblies who hold dual nationalities.
Taking notice of reports that quoted Malik and journalist Umar Cheema on the dual nationalities case, the SC directed for writing letters to Malik, Umar Cheema and Member of the National Assembly Shehnaz Sheikh to furnish details of members of the parliament and provincial assemblies holding dual nationality.
“In pursuance of the news story of Mr. Umar Cheema published in daily The News dated 21.09.2012 under caption ‘Another dual national MNA spotted hiding behind secrecy’ and statement of Mr. A. Rahman Malik published in daily The News dated 22.09.2012 under caption “Many dual national MPs still in assemblies’, the Hon’ble Chief Justice has directed the office to send letters to Mr. Umar Cheema and Senator A. Rehman Malik to furnish details to substantiate the stand taken by them, enabling this court to deal with all of them equally in terms of Article 25 read with Article 5 of the Constitution and to send letter to Begum Shehnaz Sheikh through Secretary National Assembly to confirm the information given in the newspaper,” said a handout issued by the apex court.
“After pronouncement of the short order in Constitution Petition No. 05/2012 (Syed Mehmood Akhtar Naqvi v. Federation of Pakistan through Secretary Law & others), The News International, Islamabad dated 21.09.2012 published a news report under the caption ‘Another dual national MNA spotted hiding behind secrecy’ by Mr. Umar Cheema wherein it is averred that Begum Shehnaz Sheikh, former Minister of State for Health and PML-Q MNA, is an Australian-Pakistani, who has been the Australian citizen at least for 16 years, knowing well that a dual national is not eligible for the position she held in the previous Parliament and the present one,” said the order.
The newspaper, in its issue dated 22.09.2012, carried another report under the caption “Many dual national MPs still in assemblies” wherein the Interior Minister is reported to have said that a number of dual national legislators are still sitting in assemblies and that he will produce evidence to prove the allegation, if asked, said the handout.
Another news report stated that more than 30 members still have dual citizenship. Similarly, the handout said, with reference to Senator A. Rahman Malik, another media report stated that proceedings were conducted against only few of the members of assemblies whereas a large number of members had concealed their dual citizenship and he would produce the list of such members if so directed by the court or the government.
“This court vide aforesaid short order dated 20.09.2012 decided the cases of those parliamentarians and the members of the provincial assemblies in respect of whom either the petitioner or the interveners, M/S Waheed Anjum and Tariq Asad, advocates, had furnished information, whereas no one amongst the persons named hereinabove, including Mr. Umar Cheema or Senator A. Rahman Malik had come forward to assist the court”.
The statement said that Article 5 of the Constitution provides that loyalty to the state is the basic duty of every citizen and that obedience to the Constitution and law is the inviolable obligation of every citizen wherever he may be, and of every other person for the time being within Pakistan. The said article essentially is to be read with Article 25 of the Constitution, which provides that all citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law.
“Keeping in view these provisions, it is to be observed that above noted persons, namely, Mr. Umar Cheema, Senator A. Rahman Malik, and all citizens of Pakistan are under a constitutional duty to be loyal to the State of Pakistan and obedient to the Constitution and the law. Thus, they are required to assist the court to ensure that there is no discrimination amongst the parliamentarians and members of the provincial assemblies, who being the holders of dual citizenship under Article 63(1)(c) of the Constitution are disqualified from being elected or chosen as, and from being, members of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)”.
The court order said that the CJP directed that letters be sent to Umar Cheema and Senator A. Rahman Malik to furnish details to substantiate the stand taken by them as noted hereinabove, enabling the court to deal with all of them equally in terms of Article 25 read with Article 5 of the Constitution.
“A letter be also sent to Begum Shehnaz Sheikh through Secretary, National Assembly to confirm the information given in the newspapers referred to hereinabove. The information so solicited be furnished on or before 27.09.2012, so that further proceedings, if need be, may be initiated on judicial side.”