LAHORE: The government has no ‘mechanism’ to check the dual nationals holding key posts – thanks to their colleagues and conniving parliamentarians.

The Supreme Court last week sought the lists of dual national judges and civil servants from the registrars of the top court and high courts as well as from the establishment secretary within a fortnight (15 days).

In the past, no bureaucrat in Punjab ever revealed his dual nationality if he had.  

Right to Information Act was passed in 2013.  A citizen, Tariq Khursheed,  approached the Secretary Services (S&GAD) office a couple of years ago to seek details of the dual national officials in Punjab, prompting the secretary to contact other departments for submitting the required information. According to departments, no dual national officials were working in Punjab.

Moreover, the federal establishment also demanded officials serving in Punjab to submit affidavits that they were not dual nationals, but to no avail.

The federal government had forwarded a circular to the chief secretaries directing them to provide information of those officers having dual nationality and details of their foreign visits. Moreover, information about their children studying abroad was also sought. Despite sending reminders to all the government departments, nothing was revealed.

Surprisingly, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah says the government has no mechanism of acquiring such information. However, he constituted a committee comprising secretaries to look into the matter and give recommendations.

Although no law has been enacted to bar dual national officials from doing government job, the Punjab Assembly passed a resolution in 2012 demanding all public servants to file affidavits that they do not hold dual nationality. It also sought giving a deadline to dual nationals to renounce their foreign nationality.  It was also stressed in the resolution that the government servants must be removed from service if they refused to give up their foreign citizenship.

Forensic Science Agency DG Ashraf Tahir reported to have American nationality is holding the key post. Similarly,  former Indus waters commissioner Syed Jammat Ali Shah is also a dual national.

Many other bureaucrats and technocrats in different ministries were also reportedly holding dual nationalities, but they are not providing the required information to the government.

Reportedly, 2,474 officials from grade 1 to 8 married to foreign women.

Also, after the Supreme Court ruling to remove the dual national lawmakers from the post, a campaign was started to amend the Civil Servants Act 1973 to bar the officials having dual nationality.

The PPP-led government too kicked off a campaign to bring constitutional amendment to save dual national parliamentarians and sought recommendations from provinces on a draft bill in 2013. The Punjab government had constituted a cabinet sub-committee under the law minister to prepare recommendations for the federal government over the matter.

The Article 63(1)(C)  reads: “A person shall be disqualified from being elected or chosen as, and from being, a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament), if he ceases to be a citizen of Pakistan, or acquires the citizenship of a foreign state” – might have been amended through a fresh legislation.

An opposition member said on the condition of anonymity, the government had broke its promise of ousting such officials.

A provincial secretary said such officials hide the fact. He claimed many Lahore Development Authority officials are either Canadian or Australian nationals but they are still on job. He called upon the parliament to draft the law and enforce it for the sake of national interest.

In its September 2012 judgment, the Supreme Court ruled that dual nationals could not be trusted on matters of significant implications, he recalled and confirmed that a good number of officials were dual nationals serving in Punjab’s other departments.

He said such officials ‘get benefits from motherland and have their interests abroad’.

A committee reportedly recommended that talented officers would be better than capital foreign investment.

Therefore, the government should utilize their services. The government should not discourage civil servants possessing dual nationality, it observed.

The committee further held that disallowing dual nationals to bureaucracy would create bottlenecks and would be harmful to the development. The committee unanimously recommended the resolutions adopted by the assembly be opposed and in case these were required to be forwarded to the federal government, the same must not be recommended.

After court notice, the Punjab government circulated directives among the departments to seek details.

However, an official questioned as to why would a dual national official sign his ‘death warrant’ by disclosing this.

He said the court should direct the state to collect information of the officers who frequently visit other countries.

The Pakistan government may send names of such officers to other countries to confirm their citizenship, he suggested.

A senior politician said the present political setup does not want to displease civil and military babus holding dual nationalities.

Senior lawyer A K Dogar said the CJP Justice Saqib Nisar may have a mind that there should be no dual national bureaucrat in the services. He said that according to the Citizenship Act of 1951 Section 14, no dual nationality holder could be an office bearer and if he was so, he should renounce it. The situation changes if the federal government of Pakistan thought there was no problem in having dual citizenship of certain countries like the Common Wealth etc.