BARCELONA - Denial of dual-nationality by Spain remains the biggest issue for the Pakistanis living in this European country who have to renounce one citizenship to claim the other.

Pakistanis, mostly working in Barcelona, are about 100,000 in number. Around 60-70 per cent of them live in Barcelona. They run restaurants,

drive taxis and do different jobs to contribute to Spain’s economy and fund their families back in Pakistan.

Pakistani Consul General in Barcelona Imran Ali told The Nation here at his office that thousands of Pakistanis were expecting the Pakistan and Spanish governments to reach an agreement over the dual nationality.

“This is a big issue for the expatriates. Spain does not allow dual nationality to Pakistanis which forces them to renounce Pakistani citizenship. Efforts are on to convince Spain to settle this issue. After gaining Spanish citizenship, Pakistanis need to get visas to visit their country of origin. Most of the Pakistanis only visit the consulate to check get updates on dual nationality talks. They expect Islamabad to take up the issue more seriously with Spain,” he said.

Spain does permits dual citizenship under limited circumstances. It permits dual citizenship for all Spanish citizens by origin, so long as they declare their will to retain the Spanish nationality within three years of acquiring another nationality. 

This requirement is waived for natural citizens of an Iberoamerican country, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea or Portugal, and any other country that Spain has a bilateral agreement with.

For those seeking to acquire Spanish citizenship as their second citizenship, whether or not the person can retain dual citizenship depends on the county in which they hold their original citizenship. Pakistani does not have any agreement with Spain on dual nationality so far.

Imran Ali said the consulate was helping all the Pakistanis who come to him with various complaints. “Several Pakistanis are looking for new passports. They enter Spain illegally and agents ask them to destroy their passports for unknown reasons. We have been providing them new passports so that they can register themselves in Spain,” he maintained.

Pakistanis began settling in Spain, mainly in the city centre of Barcelona, as early as the 1970s, and most Pakistanis in Spain still reside there. However, it took until November 2006 for the Pakistani government to approve plans to open a consulate in Barcelona.

Senior leader of the ruling socialist party Josep Maria Sala Griso said although scores of Pakistanis had entered Spain illegally, they had not been involved in criminal activity.

Speaking to The Nation here, Griso said his party acknowledged the contributions made by Pakistanis towards Spain’s economy.

“We have helped so many Pakistanis to settle here. More Pakistanis are welcome. We have allowed mosques for the Muslims. Our socialist party does not promote religion but it also does not discourage religion as well,” he remarked.

Griso complained that Pakistanis, who have settled in Spain, did not encourage the women to work. “They are wasting them (the women) at home. They should let them come out and work. We can’t force them (the Pakistanis) to find jobs for their women but we believe the Pakistanis should not discriminate between men and women,” he contended.