ISLAMABAD - As the upcoming Senate elections are due in March, the candidates of Senate elections for the first time in the history of country would submit declarations for having no dual nationality along with their nomination papers before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

Under the Constitution, any candidate having dual nationality is disqualified to contest any election of the National Assembly, Senate or any of the provincial assemblies. However, in the past it was not mandatory for the Senate, National Assembly candidates and provincial assemblies' candidates to declare before the ECP of having no dual nationality at the time of submission of their nomination papers. It was a practice that some of the MNAs, senators or MPAs used to submit declarations of having no dual nationality and others not. "It is for the first time that Election Commission of Pakistan has added a column in the nomination form of Senate elections for giving declaration of having no dual nationality so that each candidate could give his/her declaration at the time of submission of nomination papers," an official of the ECP said. An additional annexure has been added to the nomination form for this purpose. The commission had also added this column in the nominations forms for the first time in General Elections 2013 for National Assembly and provincial assemblies' candidates.

According to a notification of the ECP, the candidates of Senate elections would submit their nomination papers on February 12 and 13 with the returning officers concerned at provincial headquarters and in Islamabad. The polling for the Senate election had been announced on March 3 as half of the Upper House members out of the 104-member house would retire on March 11, 2015 after the expiration of their term of office

The issue of dual nationality of parliamentarians came in the lime light when in 2012, a number of petitions were submitted before the Supreme Court about disqualification of some lawmakers for having dual nationality under Article 63(1)(c) of the Constitution.

A three-member bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan headed by then Chief Justice of Pakistan Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry in its September 20, 2012 order said, "The Election Commission of Pakistan is also directed to examine the cases of the Parliamentarians and the members of Provincial Assemblies, individually, by obtaining fresh declaration on oath from all of them that they are not disqualified under Article 63(1)(c) of the Constitution. The court had taken up matter of dual nationality of parliamentarians and members of provincial assemblies on various dates during course of hearing. The notices had been issued to the some of then parliamentarians for allegedly having dual citizenship that included then Senators A. Rehman Malik, Abdul Hafeez Sheikh and Sabir Ali Baloch, then MNAs Ch. Zahid Iqbal, Ch. Iftikhar Nazir, Farah Naz Isfahani, Farhat Mehmood Khan, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Anusha Rehman, Jamil Ahmad Malik and Sardar Shahjehan Yousaf, then MPAs  Muhammad Akhlaq, Tariq Mehmood Alloana, Dr Muhammad Ashraf Chohan, Nadia Gabol, Ch. Waseem Qadir, Ch. Nadeem Khadim, Amna Buttar and Dr Ahmad Ali Shah.