ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) reserved its decision on Thursday on the maintainability of a petition seeking dismissal of prime minister’s aides holding dual citizenship.
The case was heard before IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah. Where does the constitution state that the premier’s aides cannot hold dual citizenship, asked Justice Minallah.
When the prime minister is elected, he has huge responsibilities, remarked Justice Minallah. What is the harm if the premier takes assistance of others to fullfill those responsibilities, how will the system work if the premier does not even have the authority to appoint someone, Justice Minallah further asked.
It is good to raise constitutional issues in the court, but there are more pressing issues right now, he remarked. “There are people in jail whose cases are pending,” he said.
According to Article 93 of the constitution, five advisors can be appointed, said the petitioner’s lawyer, Akram Chaudhry.
Article 93 of the constitution pertains to advisors not special assistants, noted Justice Minallah. He asked the petitioner’s lawyer to indicate where in the constitution it says that the assistants cannot hold dual citizenship.
It is not mentioned in the constitution but this restriction is stated in the Rules of Business, said Chaudhry.
Justice Minallah observed that Rule 15 was struck down in 2010.
The court reserved its decision on the maintainability of the petition and adjourned the hearing.
The petitioner has contended that the four of the 19 unelected members of the premier’s cabinet, hold dual citizenships. The petition names SAPM on Petroleum Nadeem Babar and SAPM Coordination of Marketing and Development of Mineral Resources with status of Minister of State Shahzad Syed Qasim for having US citizenship, SAPM on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development with status of Minister of State Sayed Zulfikar Bukhari for holding UK citizenship, and SAPM on Digital Pakistan Tania Aidrus for being a Canadian national.
Aidrus is now among two special assistants to the prime minister who announced their resignation yesterday (July 29). The other SAPM to resign was Dr Zafar Mirza.
In an unprecedented move, the government on July 18, 2020 went public with the assets and nationalities of 15 special assistants to the prime minister – bringing to light that seven of them were either dual nationals or held another country’s permanent residency.