–CJP says he was not aware that elections for Senate chairman were to be held on March 12 when he passed initial order to withhold notifications of four senators-elect
–SC orders senators-elect to submit affidavits on dual nationality issue
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday observed that the case regarding candidates for senators believed to be holding dual nationalities will be heard on March 10 so that it can be made sure that only ‘eligible legislators’ are in the position to vote in the upcoming election for Senate chairman on March 12.
A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Mian Saqib Nisar heard the case on Thursday.
PTI’s newly elected Senator Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar told the court that he had abandoned his British nationality in 2013.
The court then ordered the four newly elected senators to present their affidavits on Saturday stating that they had renounced their foreign nationalities before contesting the recent Senate elections.
According to the order, candidates Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar, Nuzhat Sadiq, Sadia Abbasi and Haroon Akhtar are required to submit authenticated and duly certificated copies of documents to substantiate their respective claims.
Earlier in the week, CJP Nisar, while hearing a suo motu case apropos civil servants in possession of dual nationality, had directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to withhold notifications of four senators-elect who allegedly possess dual nationalities.
The CJP opined that if people in power of passing the country’s laws were dual nationals then they could easily “pass on classified information and escape to another country”.
He clarified that he was not aware that elections for Senate chairman were to be held on March 12 when he passed the initial order to withhold notifications and that he did not intend to withhold notifications of ‘eligible voters’.
Therefore, the case’s next hearing was fixed for March 10 in the SC’s Lahore Registry, so that senators-elect who are not dual nationals could be accommodated.
Furthermore, the court during the hearing also appointed amici curiae (friends of the court) legal experts Khalid Khan and Bilal Manto to assist in the case.
The attorney general (AG) had previously told the court that four senators-elect — Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) Chaudhry Sarwar, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s sister Sadia Abbasi, and the PML-N’s Nuzhat Sadiq and Haroon Akhtar — possessed dual nationality.
“PTI’s Sarwar is believed to be a UK national, while Nuzhat Sadiq and PM Abbasi’s sister Sadia hold a US nationality,” ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob, who was representing the body, told the court.
“Akhtar had previously denied holding a foreign nationality, but the interior ministry had confirmed that he was a Canadian citizen,” Yaqoob had said.
The ECP secretary had said that though the senators holding dual nationality had submitted affidavits claiming that they had given up their nationality of other countries, they had not submitted any legal documents confirming the same.
The Supreme Court (SC) subsequently ordered the ECP to withhold the notifications of the senators in question.
The AG’s claim — that PTI senator-elect Sarwar possessed a dual nationality — had elicited a strong response from the party. The PTI’s media cell had released a statement along with a document from the UK Border Agency declaring that Sarwar had revoked his UK citizenship in 2013.
“It is the legal and ethical responsibility of the attorney general to check his facts before recording statements in the Supreme Court,” the PTI spokesperson said. “The party is seriously reviewing the hidden political motives in the attorney general’s statement.”