national-assembly-670
A view of National Assembly. — File Photo

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday suspended the National Assembly membership of Pakistan Muslim League - Quaid (PML-Q) MNA Begum Shehnaz Sheikh who allegedly holds Australian citizenship, DawnNews reported.

A three-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, was hearing a case pertaining to lawmakers holding dual nationality.

During the hearing, no one appeared to represent Sheikh, who had also served as the minister of state for health during the military regime of Pervez Musharraf,  in spite of a Supreme Court notice on the matter.

Chief Justice Iftikhar remarked that the fact that no one appeared on Sheikh's behalf implied that she was simply not interested in the issue.

The chief justice moreover said that a notice had also been issued to secretary National Assembly in this regard.

The bench subsequently directed Sheikh to submit a response on the matter in three days' time and ordered MNA Capt (retd) Rai Ghulam Mujtaba Kharral to submit his response over the allegation that he was a Canadian national today.

The Supreme Court had issued notices to the two lawmakers over allegations that they were dual nationals.

Malik given seven days to provide information on dual national MPs

The SC directed Interior Minister Rehman Malik to submit a list of parliamentarians with dual nationality with its registrar in a sealed envelope within seven days.

During the course of hearing, Interior Minister apprised the bench, “I don't have a compiled list of dual national parliamentarians”.

However, he told the court that he could assist the court in this regard.

He also urged the court to take cognizance of the fact that a petition had been filed by a proclaimed offender (PO), Mahmood Akhtar Naqvi, who had later sought refuge in the court premises.

He said that a proclaimed offender's application should not have been admitted by the court as the authorities had also provided information about the PO.

He said that Naqvi had violated Article 5 of the Constitution by concealing information from the court and he was wanted in some case.

He said he had no specific or confirmed information about any dual national and rather he had made a statement on a “heresay”.

However, the Chief Justice said that he had only been asked to assist the court in the larger public interest. He asked the minister to submit any detail about the dual national members of the parliament (MPs) as per his media claims.

He said if the minister thought it appropriate, he might provide the sensitive information in an in- camera hearing.

Malik, however, said that he had no proper information and rather he had made the statement on the heresay.

He said that he had come to know about the dual nationality of Dr Tahir Ali Javed, member of the Punjab Assembly.

The minister assured the court to provide information on his return from the US tour.

“I give you an honest commitment that whatever comes to my knowledge, I will submit it with the court ... I have been fighting against extremists, Taliban ... I am now going to the US leading a Pakistani delegation for talks,” he added.

It may be mentioned here that Rehman Malik had been directed by the court to appear and produce a list of parliamentarians and members of provincial assemblies having dual nationality as it had appeared in the media, copies of which have been placed on record, that there are so many dual national lawmakers.

Verdict against dual national lawmakers

On Sept 20, the Supreme Court had disqualified 11 members of parliament and provincial assemblies, but had spared Malik for the time being. The only sentence Malik received for submitting a false declaration was a court observation that he could not be considered sagacious, righteous, honest and ameen.

However, like other lawmakers, the minister will be facing legal proceedings by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) which may entail a punishment of up to seven years and also require him to reimburse all monetary benefits drawn by him up to July 11, 2012, for the period he occupied the public office.

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