SAPMs, advisers’ dual nationalities: Heated debate expected in Senate, NA

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ISLAMABAD: The floors of the National Assembly and Senate are expected to see a heated when the two Houses resume their session today over the dual nationality of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s special assistants and advisers.

The question of the constitutional status of dual nationality holders and foreign-based/linked SAPMs and advisers and the matter to raise them in the National Assembly and Senate comes after a meeting of the opposition leaders over the weekend, parliamentary sources 

According to sources, opposition leaders who met over the weekend held consultations over the matter and have decided to work on a two-pronged strategy, challenging the government’s decision to retain the services of these SAPMs and advisers.

Opposition members are expected to raise the question relating to the dual nationalities of Cabinet members through privilege motions and points-of-order in Senate and National Assembly today as a first step when the two Houses commence their sessions. Next, the validity of having such person/persons as SAPMs and advisers in the government will be challenged.

The opposition leaders hold the view that the Supreme Court, through its verdict, had disqualified members of the Parliament belonging to the opposition who had been holding foreign citizenship, with a PML-N Senate member even giving up her foreign nationality before contesting. 

The PML-N member was deprived of the membership of the House in 2019 on account of nationality question although she had quit it earlier. This had paved the way for PTI to fill the seat with its member instead of Barrister Saadia Abbasi, sister of former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

Sources further said the opposition have obtained verified copies of the dual nationality and assets of the officeholders which are being studied by top legal experts so that they could be submitted to the superior court for the determination of the constitutional status of the persons in question. They are going to urge the apex court to take suo motu notice of the appointments as these are detrimental for the national interests.

Sources added that the ruling party has also evolved counter-strategy to tackle opposition’s agitation. The government will have support from the chair, but the opposition will not budge to any pressure and tactic. The proceedings of the two houses could be noisy although top leaders of the two sides wouldn’t ‘grace’ the occasion. Opposition sources have alleged that some officeholders have concealed their assets and hidden their dual nationality. The appointment of few ‘technocrats’ like governor State Bank of Pakistan is also being challenged by the opposition members, The News reported.

Nineteen non-elected cabinet members and seven SAPMs hold dual nationalities. They are SAPM on Political Affairs Shahbaz Gill (United States), SAPM on Petroleum Nadeem Babar (US), SAPM on Overseas Pakistanis Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari alias Zulfi Bukhari (United Kingdom), SAPM on National Security Moeed Yousuf (US), SAPM on Power Division Shahzad Qasim (US), SAPM on Parliamentary Coordination Nadeem Afzal Gondal (Canada) and SAPM on Digital Pakistan Tania S Aidrus (Canada and Singapore).

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