Pakistani Dual Nationals on ‘Coveted’ Posts in Khan Govt. in Spotlight

An appeal has been filed with the country’s Supreme Court on Tuesday to declare the appointment of special assistants and advisers to the prime minister as unconstitutional on grounds they hold dual nationality. It requested the apex court to order withdrawal of notifications appointing them to the posts –some consider these positions”coveted” and public opinion seems to be divided.

The petition is against the rejection (two weeks earlier) of the same by the Islamabad High Court.

The capital’s high court had held that there is no restriction of appointing persons having dual nationality. “The only restriction provided in the Constitution is under Article 63(1)(c) and it is confined to disqualification of a person from being elected or chosen as, and from being, a member of the Majlis-i-Shoora (Parliament),” the high court wrote in its verdict.

Article 63 (1) of the Constitution lists what disqualifies a person from being chosen as or elected or being a member of parliament.

Currently, the Constitution does not allow persons of dual nationality to contest elections in Pakistan. On their hiring on “coveted” posts, the matter remains a subject for discussions and debates specially in the electronic media.

Khan’s government has sought to harness overseas Pakistanis’ knowledge and skills base by encouraging them to join his team and other state institutions.

The perennial atmosphere of bitter rivalry between the government and the opposition however makes it difficult for bipartisanship on the issue outside courts.

There are between 3 to 4 million dual nationals among the 10 to 11 million Pakistanis abroad, according to an estimate.

The State and the government seek to tap the country’s human resource abroad and initiate a reverse brain drain if it can –hiccups notwithstanding.

Two members of Khan’s team recently resigned (some say they were asked to leave). Both were “dual nationals”. The appointment of eight other special assistants and one adviser to the prime minister have been challenged in the lawsuit.

“We are under stress…loss of dignity…we may just leave”, said one.

The country’s top court decision will hopefully clear the deck, some observers and analysts say.