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Pak: Bill to let dual nationality persons contest polls deferred

Last Updated: Sunday, July 8, 2012 - 22:34

Lahore: The Pakistan Peoples Party-led government has decided to defer the tabling of a bill to allow persons with dual nationality to contest polls in order to address reservations expressed by the Awami National Party, a key member of the ruling coalition.

"We are not going to table the dual nationality bill in the National Assembly on Monday as the ANP has some reservations on the draft," PPP parliamentarian Imtiaz Safdar Warraich said.

A committee headed by Law Minister Farooq Naek will prepare a new draft of the bill that will incorporate changes proposed by the ANP.
The amended bill will then be tabled in the National Assembly or lower house of parliament, Warraich said.

The President had summoned a special session of the National Assembly and Senate so that the government could table two bills, one to allow persons with dual nationality to contest polls and become members of parliament and provincial assemblies and another to protect top leaders from contempt of court proceedings.

The bill on a new contempt of court law is expected to be tabled on Monday, sources said.

The government decided to frame the bill on allowing persons with dual nationality to contest polls after the Supreme Court suspended nine members of the national and provincial assemblies, including Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik and Farahnaz Ispahani, a close confidant of President Asif Ali Zardari.

The apex court has barred persons with dual nationality holders from contesting elections.

Support from the ANP is crucial for passing the bill on
dual nationality as it will require an amendment of the Constitution, which needs the backing of two-thirds of the members in both houses of parliament.

The ANP has proposed some changes in the draft bill.

Senior ANP leader Haji Mohammad Adeel said his party wants changes in the bill to bar persons with dual nationality from holding important political offices and top bureaucratic positions.

The ANP believes that a person with dual nationality should not hold any important public office, including the offices of the President and Prime Minister, and key posts in the military and judiciary.

Besides the ANP, opposition parties like the PML-N and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F are also opposing the proposed bill.

Commenting on the government`s move, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif said: "It`s a joke that the PPP is bringing a controversial legislation in the National Assembly only to protect two or three influential parliamentarians."

Sharif said his party will oppose the bill as it was against the national interest.

He pointed out that in neighbouring India, even ordinary citizens were not allowed to hold dual nationality.


First Published: Sunday, July 8, 2012 - 22:33
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