Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) thinks that politicians who invest outside Pakistan are not loyal to the country. However, the PTI government also feels that allowing dual nationals to contest elections is a good idea. Do the two thoughts sound not contradicting? True that Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan always found the concept of barring dual nationality-holders a strange one. However, thinking that allowing dual nationality-holders to sit in the parliament will convince them to contribute to the country’s economy is not entirely correct.

The government believes that some of these dual nationality holders serve the country in the shape of foreign remittances amounting to billions of rupees. Therefore, they should have the right to contest polls. But that notion is not true; it is the ordinary people living abroad who contribute to thickening of the foreign reserves of the country, not the few richer ones. Moreover, the PM has a track record of criticising the past governments whenever they appointed dual nationals on crucial posts – especially regarding to contradicting oaths of loyalty and overlapping national laws that apply to them. What explains this sudden turnaround on the dual nationals’ stance?

What makes the government think that allowing representation in the parliament is the only way through which these few rich will contribute to the country’s economy? People will only add to Pakistan’s economy if the environment is conducive for investment. There is no other way that can bring investors to make the country’s economy stable.

Moreover, what does a representative do in parliament? A public representative debates the issues that her/his constituency faces. An elected member of the parliament is supposed to have a fair understanding of the local political, social and economic environment. Even if the dual nationality holders occupy seats in the parliament, it is hard to imagine if they can genuinely fight for the issues of the constituencies they represent. The underlying rationale for allowing people with dual nationalities that some of them contribute to the economy in billions means that rich are entitled to represent the citizenry in the parliament just because they are rich. This kind of thinking is fatal to the idea of democracy.

However, if the government still wishes to grant the diaspora some representation in the Parliament it can do so without removing the restriction barring dual nationals from contesting on reserved seats. A small number of reserved seats can be added to the parliament that can accommodate this need without upending the functioning of the legislature.