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Dual nationality: sailing in two boats

October 26, 2012

THIS is apropos of the issue of dual nationals and the Constitution which forbids them from holding elected public office.

Arguments are being put forth quoting example of Arnold Schwarzenegger who held elected public office in the US.

Schwarzenegger was an Austrian by birth, who migrated to America in 1968 after becoming Mr Universe. As per Austrian law, a citizen who acquires another citizenship by voluntary action loses Austrian citizenship. The exception is in cases where permission to retain citizenship has been obtained before acquiring another citizenship.

Former citizens of Austria, who lost citizenship other than by renunciation or deprivation, can regain their citizenship only after one year residence in Austria. The Austrian citizenship is also automatically lost by serving in a foreign army.

Schwarzenegger cannot hold elected public office in Austria after having voluntarily renounced his loyalty to that country, when he took the oath of the citizenship of America.

This is the issue under discussion that any citizen of Pakistan who of his own will takes the oath of citizenship of another country must not be allowed to hold elected, or even paid public office in his former country of origin, because he has renounced his loyalty to that country.

In any case, the constitution of Pakistan is supreme law, and the Citizenship Act of 1951 is subservient to it and in case of any conflict, the constitution prevails.

The Supreme Court has given a very clear judgment on this issue and it alone is a legally accepted forum for interpretation of the constitution. Common sense dictates that a citizen, who has pledged loyalty to a country, must be loyal to it alone. It is the most recent oath of loyalty which overrides any previous oath or pledge of loyalty to any other country, including the country of birth.

Let the fate and destiny of Pakistan be decided by those who have no split loyalties and who have undivided stakes in that country alone. The people of Pakistan have had enough of experimenting with men like Shaukat Aziz. Those Pakistani-origin dual nationals eager to help this country can invest in it, or own private business, and even offer consultancy services, but must understand that they cannot sail in two boats simultaneously, nor be loyal to both nations simultaneously, in case of a conflict between them.

M. ALI      United States