Wednesday, July 13, 2011


By:Rabia AhmedPakistan Today 12 July 2011

Dual nationality and elections

The newly formed Election Commission of Pakistan has banned persons holding dual citizenship from contesting elections to parliament in Pakistan.

This reminds one of an earlier ruling in 2002, during General Musharraf’s era, barring persons without a basic college degree from being elected to parliament. Mercifully, this rule was overturned a few years later.

The fact that this pathetically uneducated, ignorant country even considered such a pre-requisite for election, one that no other modern democracy has, is ironic. The President of the USA, for example, must satisfy only three broad criteria. He or she must be: a natural born American citizen, at least thirty five years old, and for the past fourteen years a permanent resident of the United States.

George W Bush
Thus Dubya was eligible for presidential office even had he not possessed a degree, which he does, by George! He has a Bachelors degree from Yale and an MBA from Harvard Business School!

Clearly it helps to be rich, and the son of a former president in the US, as in Pakistan. In fact, Pakistanis, being as resourceful as they are, have taken matters a step further: fake degrees are available upon payment in this country, far more readily than clean water, and many persons including parliamentarians possess them, unchecked. The fact that the requirement no longer stands is hardly the point.

Banning things is popular in this country, and there are many other instances such as the ban on the ‘Satanic Verses’, as a result of which, and not due to its literary merit, almost every Pakistani who knew English read the book. Customs officials of the time ignored large cannons in traveller’s luggage, pouncing instead with triumphant ‘Ha’s!’ on copies of the bestseller.

Alcohol, banned in Pakistan, is easily available and much of the country is sloshed in more ways than one. Typically, if caught red handed people such as airline stewardesses cop it, whilst glamorous models do not.

It is as common to hold two citizenships in Pakistan as it is to own two pairs of glasses, even more common than it is to own a fake degree, and who can be blamed for it…for holding dual nationality, that is?

Each day starts with breakfast following a hot and fitful night’s sleep due to interrupted, or no power supply.

In winter breakfast may be cold, since gas in these months is often unavailable.

Getting to work is an exercise if you drive a CNG fueled vehicle as many people do. On three days of the week, CNG is unavailable in the Punjab, while on the other four it takes anything from twenty minutes to an hour before you can get it.

Naturally, as a result public transport neither runs regularly, nor is it cheap.

What used to be timed power outages are now random, as a result of which no home or business is able to function efficiently and countless businesses have folded, unable to function at all.

To escape this chaos and other hellish problems created by those who govern being uninterested in working to provide the basic amenities of life to the governed, people seek the citizenship of another country; there are otherwise few reasons for persons to impose exile on themselves, far from home and family. Persons acquiring another citizenship are feted in much the same fashion as persons returning from Haj, with garlands, and mithai.

Characteristically though it is dual nationality that is being targeted rather than the underlying cause: poor and exorbitantly expensive education, pathetic healthcare, non-existent law and order, corruption, twisted social values, filth, high prices, and a total absence of recourse to justice.

Most persons who leave the country with a dual citizenship under their belt do not return. For those few who do, one would have imagined the government would in fact wish them to utilise their wider experiences in dealing with this country’s problems, if nothing else then in some kind of a think tank.

The news regarding the ban on persons with dual citizenship contesting the election also states that in the absence of a proper mechanism on the part of the Election Commission, the dual citizen status of current lawmakers could not be checked.

Like the fake degrees. Like the book. Like the alcohol. Like the corruption…

We can now look forward to yet more sanctimonious balderdash from those in public office, each extolling his virtue in holding just the one passport.

All the while, of course, another is tucked away under their mattress at home, right above the fake degree.

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