I had an opportunity to attend the APPNA spring meeting this past weekend. APPNA held a social forum to talk about the genocide of Shia doctors in Pakistan, and to see if anything can be done by the Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America, APPNA, to stop that genocide.
Two former members of Pakistan’s National and Punjab assembly Dr. Amna Buttar and Farah Naz Isphahani were present as speakers of the conference. Both of these women don’t need an introduction and have been credited to a multitude of good work, as they are social workers and human rights activists.
What drove me to write this piece was the few statements made by Ms. Farah Naz Isphahani. A woman with young looks, a cute smile, vibrant personality and a famous last name spoke the truth that day, but she also spoke a half truth. While I admire her for the truth, I want to mention the parts where she wasn’t so accurate.
Someone from the audience asked her which government declared Ahmadi’s “non-muslims”. That individual was speaking of Pakistan People Party’s mullah appeasement and the unfortunate role it has played in Pakistani politics. Farha Naz accepted that fact by just making a simple and stratight forward statement, “Unfortunately, Shaheed Zulifqar Ali Bhutto was trying to appease mullahs when he declared Ahmadi’s non muslims, but he ended up pleasing no one”.
And that was the truth which I admire her greatly for. Farah Naz Isphahani is no stranger to the truth, she speaks with infallibility most of the time. She openly condemns religious extremism in Pakistan and seems to have genuine love for the country.
My problem is with her explanation of the disqualification and termination of her National Assembly’s membership. She said, “Chief Justice of Pakistan doesn’t think that I am patriotic enough because I am a dual citizen”.
Here is the simple truth that could have been stated just like the truth that she told about Bhutto’s mullah appeasement policy:
Pakistani constitution’s Artcile 63C is about the disqualification of candidates. It tells you what will disqualify you from becoming a member of Parliament. And it says:
(c) he/she ceases to be a citizen of Pakistan, or acquires the citizenship of a foreign State.
And that statement alone disqualifies all dual citizens. When you take an oath as a member of Parliament, you say, “I do qualify to be a member and have nothing that would disqualify me from being the member of Parliament”.
In fact, Farah Naz Isphani is not the only one who has not stated this fact clearly. Dr. Ashraf Chohan, a former member of Punjab Assembly and a British citizen, and several journalists who are friends with Isphani and company have written statements also, such as, “what? Dual citizenship doesn’t mean you are not patriotic enough. You stupid stupid Cheif Justice!”
The problem is that when Pakistan’s constitution was written in 1973, someone decided that if you seek a citizenship of another country, you are no longer Pakistani enough to be a member of Parliament.
And that isn’t my probelm. My problem now is wondering if all these dual citizenship holders read those disqualification guidelines and then lied under oath about it?
Clearly CJ thinks so, since he has placed criminal charges on all these formal members of Parliament and National Assembly and these people will go to jail for up to seven years for lying to the government and the authorities if they ever returned to Pakistan.
There is a great possibility that these dual citizens did not read the constitution and the requirements properly. And honestly, I do not believe that many people who are in Parliament have read the constitution. Perhaps reading and passing an exam on the constitution should also be a requirement to be in Parliament.