Controversy Over US Citizenship of PM-in-Waiting Shaukat Aziz
July 18: The controversy whether PM-in-waiting, Shaukat Aziz,
is or is not, a US citizen is irrelevant as the Constitution of
Pakistan categorically states that any Pakistani who acquires
citizenship of a Foreign State shall stand disqualified from being
elected as a member of Parliament.
disqualification clause has already been invoked in the case of
at least one sitting Senator, Azam Swati of MMA, who was a US
citizen and who had to renounce his US citizenship before his
papers for Senate nomination were accepted in 2002.
Shaukat Aziz, who has lived abroad
for all his working life and has settled in the US, living in
the posh Manhattan high rise compound, 100-UN Plaza, a property
worth over two million dollars, has himself created the controversy
around his citizenship, possibly for political reasons.
He has been attacked by the Opposition
on this count in the media and even on the Senate floor where
he made his first appearance with the new PM Choudhry Shujaat
Hussain recently. Opposition senators wanted a direct yes or no
answer from Aziz whether or not he was a US citizen but he kept
his response vague just declaring that he was a Pakistani.
in an interview with Mariana Babar of The News on Sunday,
Aziz came closest to clarifying the issue by saying he was a Green
Card holder and had never obtained the US passport.
of the closest of people in New York, a senior journalist and
a doctor associated with PPP, have separately stated to me that
as far as they knew Aziz had never obtained the US citizenship.
One of them said he had traveled
with Aziz abroad several times and as recently as a few months
back and he always saw a Pakistani Green Passport in his hand,
not a Blue US book.
the other friend said he was 100 per cent sure that Aziz was not
a US citizen.
statements coupled with the Mariana Babar's interview make it
quite evident that Aziz was sure of how he was handling this issue.
He has been unruffled by the criticism and has remained cool and
confident, despite quite provocative attacks, right at his face
in the Senate and elsewhere.
contrast Aziz’s reaction to the other attack that he was
a Qadyani or an Ahmedi, was instant and fierce as he considered
that charge to be explosive if it stuck, no matter whether it
was right or wrong.
refer to the case of Interim Prime Minister Moeen Qureshi, who
also came from the US and became the PM. But in his case as well
it was clear that Mr Qureshi had never acquired the US citizenship
and was only a Green Card holder, travelling all the time on a
former diplomat of the Pakistani Embassy in Washington confirmed
to me that he always handled Mr Qureshi's passport whenever it
came for renewal or any other consular service.
Pakistan Constitution Article 63, which deals with qualifications
and disqualifications of becoming a member of Parliament, reads
63- (1) A person shall be disqualified
from being elected or chosen as, and from being, a member of the
Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament), if -
(a) he is of unsound mind and has been so declared by a competent
(b) he is an undischarged insolvent; or
(c) he ceases to be citizen of Pakistan, or acquires
the citizenship of a Foreign State; or……
the list goes on until sub-section p, q, r and s.
It was this sub-section (c) which
forced Senator Azam Swati to forego his US citizenship and also
forced another US-based politician of PML-Q, Omar Ghumman to declare
that he was not a US citizen, at least at the time of filing his
Shaukat Aziz must have also declared
that he was not a US citizen before contesting for the Senate
seat in 2002 and that is why he appears cool on the issue because
by behaving in that way, he is distracting the Opposition from
attacking him on other potentially more damaging issues.
experts say Article 63 is so clear it cannot be affected in any
way by any dual citizenship laws which allow a Pakistani to keep
his Pakistani citizenship along with US or British citizenship.
Laws do not override the Constitution.
The US laws on dual citizenship are also vague and in case Shaukat
Aziz was a citizen and became the Prime Minister, the US law may
not threaten him in any way.
349(a)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) is the
section of law that governs the ability of a United States citizen
to renounce his or her US citizenship. On 16 April 1990, though,
the State Department adopted a new set of guidelines for handling
dual citizenship cases which are much more streamlined and liberal
State Department now says that it will assume that a US citizen
intends to retain (not give up) his US citizenship if he:
is naturalized in a foreign country;
2. takes a routine oath of allegiance to a foreign country; or
3. accepts foreign government employment that is of a "non-policy-level"
a "routine oath of allegiance" to another country is
no longer taken as firm evidence of intent to give up US citizenship,
even if said oath includes a renunciation of US citizenship.
This presumption that someone intends to keep US citizenship does
not apply to a person who:
4. takes a "policy-level" position in a foreign
5. is convicted of treason against the US; or
6. engages in "conduct which is so inconsistent with retention
of U.S. citizenship that it compels a conclusion that [he] intended
to relinquish U.S. citizenship."
State Department says that cases of these kinds will be examined
carefully to determine the person's intent. They also say that
cases falling under the last criterion mentioned above (conduct
wholly inconsistent with intent to keep US citizenship) are presumed
to be "very rare."
Shaukat Aziz’s case, the US will be more than happy to allow
him to retain his US citizenship, if he has one, and become the
Prime Minister of Pakistan.