Our government has been very busy lately. We hear that the government had the National Assembly pass the Contempt of Court Bill, 2012. The cabinet has also approved a draft bill which would allow dual nationals to contest in the elections and become members of parliament. The two bills have still to go through the procedural process to become law. However, courts seem to have other views which could create problems for the government.

The main argument advanced by the government seems to be that if top civil servants and judges, who were involved in state affairs, could hold dual nationality, why discriminate against politicians. I strongly feel that the right approach would have been to bar the judges and top civil servants, rather all holders of important public offices, from holding dual nationality instead of adopting the approach ‘two wrongs would make one right.’

The basic principle involved in the case against allowing dual-nationals to acquire assembly membership is that in case of conflict of interest between the countries involved, the loyalty of such persons could be suspect, at least towards one of the two countries they hold nationality of, which is most likely to be Pakistan, more so because of huge attraction of building up and safeguarding investments abroad, and least consequences of ditching Pakistan, where the stake may be minimal.

It is claimed by some that since Pakistani government has allowed overseas Pakistanis, some with dual nationality, to vote in Pakistani elections, permitting them to complete for various assembly positions would be the logical next step. However, such people are over-simplifying the issue because considering what is involved, the two propositions are not comparable.

Moreover, the facility of enabling dual-nationals to hold assembly membership and ministerial or even higher positions could empower foreign governments through their puppets ‘installed’ here. Obviously, this is the main argument against allowing dual-nationals to occupy state-positions through the assemblies’ route. However, it must be said that legislating against dual-nationals does not prove a fool-proof method of blocking the entry of puppets in the important state positions because there is nothing to stop the single-nationals from acquiring the puppet status. As a matter of fact, the largest number of puppets has risen from the ranks of single nationals who believe that the route to Islamabad passes through Washington D.C. Even the present setup came about as a result of American ‘blessings’ through the efforts of a supposedly Pakistan-first, single-nationality holder Pervez Musharraf. Unfortunately, there is no way one could legislate against the ‘evolution’ of puppets from among the ranks of single-nationals while one can do so in the case of dual-nationals, and we can do only what is possible.

I think is our country where at least some of the leaders can be tempted rather easily, it would be disastrous to allow dual-nationals to become or remain members of parliament or to hold important public offices.

S.R.H. HASHMI,

Karachi, July 5.