SC asks AG to verify nationality of four parliamentarians

Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad ChaudhryISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday asked the attorney general (AG) to confirm if four parliamentarians – Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Farahnaz Ispahani, Chaudhry Zahid Iqbal and Chaudhry Iftikhar Nazir – were holding dual nationalities.

A three-member SC bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, was hearing a petition seeking disqualification of lawmakers holding dual nationalities.The petitioner, Mahmood Akhtar Naqvi, said Zahid Iqbal, Iftikhar Nazir and Rehman Malik were holding British nationality while Ispahani, the spouse of former ambassador Husain Haqqani, was holding US nationality.

The chief justice asked the petitioner to provide proof to back his claim, asking, “Whatever concrete proof you have, share it with the court.” Naqvi said he did not have proof at the moment but “I have the transcript of a TV channel report in which the anchor claimed that the four parliamentarians have dual nationalities”.

The chief justice asked Naqvi as to why he had not made the four parliamentarians respondents in the case despite him mentioning their names. Justice Khilji Arif Hussain said it seemed the petitioner did not have solid proof against the parliamentarians. “What penalty you will suggest for yourself if you fail to prove the allegations against the parliamentarians?” the chief justice asked Naqvi. “Hang me if I fail,” the petitioner said, adding that he was doing a jihad against corrupt practices in the country.

The chief justice asked the AG as to what the constitution said on the matter of dual nationality.According to Article 63(A) Clause (c), the AG said, a parliamentarian would be disqualified if he/she acquired the citizenship of a foreign state. He also told the court that a candidate, while filing his/her nomination paper for elections, took an oath of not having a dual nationality.

The petitioner said the former Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) secretary, Kanwar Dilshad, had admitted that there were 35 parliamentarians with dual nationalities. He requested the court to direct the commission to submit a complete record of the parliamentarians.

Sher Afgan, the ECP joint secretary, told the court that candidates did not reveal their dual nationalities [while filing nomination papers]. “Why will parliamentarians disclose their dual nationalities when they are aware that this is not allowed to contest an election?” asked Afgan.The court adjourned the hearing until April 20. – Dailytimes