ISLAMABAD - The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday asked the parliamentarians to submit in a week the declarations on oath regarding their nationality statuses while it got a ‘cold shoulder’ from the senate and the national assembly secretariats in this regard.
The last date for filing the oath declarations is Oct 9, according to ECP. The commission’s Tuesday directives came as a reminder of its previous instructions issued last Monday after the electoral body, following a high-level meeting, had announced to initiate action against the dual national members of parliament (MPs) who were convicted by the apex court on Sept 20, 2012.
In a statement issued then, the commission had said it directed that “a declaration be obtained from all the parliamentarians on the proforma, approved by it as to whether each one of them was citizen of Pakistan and had not obtained the citizenship of any foreign state/country at the time of filing his/her nomination papers nor he still has ceased to be Pakistani citizen or has obtained the citizenship of any foreign state/country”.
Subsequent intimation letters and declaration forms were dispatched to the secretaries of the senate, the national assembly and all the four provincial assemblies, asking them to get the forms signed by the respective legislators.
However, the respective secretariats of the senate and NA yesterday reportedly returned the ECP’s letters and the oath declaration forms informing the commission that it stayed beyond their mandate to get any such document as declaration forms signed by the senators.
Senate Secretary Iftikharullah Babar and NA Secretary Karamat Niazi, it is further learnt, ‘reminded’ the electoral body of its legal and constitutional obligations, which did not concern the senate and NA secretariats. Citing the rules, the two secretaries are further said to have informed the commission that it was not their duty and it did not stay within their authority to get any official declaration signed by a parliamentarian.
Having received the respective letters, informed officials said, the ECP was ‘prompted’ to issue Tuesday’s reminder to the parliamentarians asking them to come clean on their nationality statuses.
“All the parliamentarians are once again reminded to submit fresh declarations on oath that they are not disqualified under article 63(1)(c) of the constitution,” a press release said.
“In this regard, the ECP has already asked and sent on Sept 24, 2012 the prescribed declaration form to the secretaries; national assembly, senate, and provincial assemblies of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. All the parliamentarians are, therefore, requested to obtain the prescribed declaration forms from the secretary concerned, sign it in the presence of the said secretary who is required to send it to the election commission on or before Oct 9, 2012,” it added.
On Sept 20, the apex court had convicted a dozen legislators whose dual nationality statuses stood proved in the court. Eleven of the 12 MPs have already been disqualified by the election commission while Interior Minister Rehman Malik would be disqualified through a reference to be routed to the ECP through senate chairman. Malik had submitted falsified details to conceal his British nationality during his previous parliamentary term at the senate.
The ECP has announced sending the cases of the convicted MPs to the sessions judges concerned for the registration of first information reports (FIRs) and start of criminal proceedings against them for producing false declarations in the SC. The convicted lot comprises of seven members provincial assembly (MPAs), four members national assembly (MNAs) and a senator.
Having dual (foreign) nationality/nationalities is a violation of the article 63 (1) (c) of Pakistan’s constitution, which provides, “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.”