Dual nationality: SC drops cases against six legislators -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Dual nationality: SC drops cases against six legislators

ISLAMABAD: Wednesday was a day of apologies at the Supreme Court. Petitioner Advocate Waheed Anjum, who has accused 14 parliamentarians and members of the provincial assemblies from the PPP, PML-N and MQM of having foreign passports, had to say sorry on five occasions during the court proceedings.

Subsequently, a bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Jawad S. Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain had to drop the proceedings since no substantiated evidence could be produced against PML-N MNAs Khawaja Asif and Anusha Rehman, Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh and Deputy Chairman of the Senate Sabir Ali Baloch, PPP’s MPA Tariq Mehmood Alloana and MNA Chaudhry Iftikhar Nazeer.

All the legislators have taken serious exception to the allegations saying serious damage has been caused to their reputation by mentioning their names.

Meanwhile, the court suspended the membership of legislators Amna Buttar and Muhammad Akhlaq (US) and Dr Ahmed Ali Shah (UK) for having dual nationality. “Prima facie we are satisfied that they are not qualified to hold the position of respective representatives. Therefore their status as member of provincial assemblies of Punjab and Sindh is hereby suspended,” the chief justice dictated the order. The Election Commission of Pakistan and secretaries of the two provincial assemblies be informed accordingly, the order said.

Anusha Rehman, who appeared in person, expressed shock that notices had been issued to parliamentarians on a mere petition that too unsubstantiated.

“I am intrigued who is feeding information to the petitioners,” Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja observed and asked the petitioner to name the person on whose behalf he had moved the petition.

“It’s very painful and it has become a ritual. We are living in the eyes of the storm these days,” observed Justice Khawaja, but he expressed the hope that good would come out of the present time.

The judge said he was hopeful that the future of the country was bright though these were difficult times for everybody including MNAs, judges and people.

Attorney General Irfan Qadir, who is also chairman of the Pakistan Bar Council, informed the court that he would take up the matter against the professional litigants in the PBC.

The AG requested the court not to suspend more legislators, but the court ignored the request saying it would discriminate against Senator Rehman Malik and MNA Farahnaz Isfahani, whose membership had earlier been suspended by the apex court.

Advocate Khawaja Haris, representing Anusha Rehman, deplored that despite mental torment because of the media bashing due to the false allegations “we will not be filing damages suit against the petitioners”.

Amna Buttar, who was in the forefront of the 2007 lawyers’ movement, expressed anguish but conceded that she was a US citizen. “I am a born Pakistani national but we are treated like criminals and our loyalty to Pakistan is being questioned,” she regretted and said she had been beaten up by police but fought for the independence of judiciary and even gave statements in Washington against drone attacks.

“I left a lucrative job in the US but came to Pakistan,” she said.

The court ordered its office to repeat notices to Chaudhry Waseem Qadir (Norway), Chaudhry Nadeem Khadim (UK), MQM’s MNA Farhat Muhammad Khan and MPA Nadia Gabol and PML-N MPA Dr Ashraf Chauhan because they were not in attendance despite the fact that services were effected.

About MNA Zahid Iqbal, the court noted that there was a controversy since the petitioner had forcefully urged that the defendant had acquired British citizenship. The court ordered Mr Iqbal to deposit his passports to the SC registrar which would be available for inspection of the petitioner. The case was adjourned for June 21.

Dawn