Dual Nationality - By: Munir M Hasan, PhD

In the early years of Pakistan, being a member of the Commonwealth countries, there was no requirement of getting British visa before travel and the people could get visa on arrival at any British airport. This position continued until 1972 when Pakistan opted to pull out of Commonwealth. I know it because when I first traveled to Britain in September 1972, I did not obtain visa from British High Commission in Pakistan and got visa on arrival at Heathrow Airport. This was the reason that when in early 1960s the old city of Mirpur (Azad Kashmir) was got vacated for the construction of Mangla Dam, most of its population preferred to travel to Britain and settle down there. This was the first time when large number of people from Pakistan went to England and obtained dual nationality.

Second phase of immigration started in the 1970s when the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, ZA Bhutto, made it easy to get a passport. Large number of people traveled not only to Britain but also to many other countries, especially to USA and to European countries, for getting higher education as well as for jobs. In those days, due to simple rules of immigration in those countries, the people, after staying there for a certain period peacefully, applied and obtained nationality of those countries and became dual national. This trend is still continuing although at much slower rate.

There was a third phase of mass travel (not immigration) when there was a boom in oil industry in oil-rich countries, especially in Saudi Arabia, and when Dubai developed as a business hub creating large number of jobs. The people obtained the jobs and traveled to Saudi Arabia and to Dubai for jobs. This was not for immigration because the Middle Eastern countries generally do not grant nationality to the foreign nationals.

So, in general, Pakistani people have been getting dual nationality, mostly in USA and in European countries, as under:

Getting jobs, and after completing the immigration requirements, got dual nationality.
Young people travelling for educational purposes, and again after completing the immigration requirements, got dual nationality.
Those who obtained the foreign nationality, they sponsored their close relatives to settle down with them.
These dual nationals have been earning money and sending it to their relatives in Pakistan, which is a major source of foreign exchange earnings for Pakistan.

A great majority of these dual nationals are living peacefully as law-abiding citizens in those countries. They have learnt the manners how to live and behave in a civilized country. They and their families have been taking part in all social, economic and political activities of those countries so much so that some of them are now considered good businessmen, and a good number of them have reached the honourable positions such as Mayors, Provincial Ministers and as Federal Ministers even after keeping the Pakistani citizenship.

These hundreds of thousands dual nationals still have links in Pakistan and due to these links they love and are sincere to Pakistan. However, some misunderstanding is being spread in Pakistan to consider these dual nationals as skeptical on the basis that they have taken the oath of loyalty of other countries. This is a baseless allegation. These dual nationals, being the national of both the countries, have equal rights and equal responsibilities in both the countries. No law of these foreign countries stops its citizens to be sincere and helpful to their native or any other country. That is the reason that some Pakistani dual nationals have worked in Pakistan even as Prime Ministers of Pakistan and nobody in Pakistan ever objected to it. On the other side, the authorities of those countries where these dual nationals got their second nationality, never suspected the loyalty of these dual nationals and never stopped them in taking part in the politics of their country on the excuse that they are also the nationals of their native countries.

Yet there is a second type of dual nationals and Aqama holders working in Pakistan. The intention of these people is not to live in the countries of their second nationality or Aqama, but to live and work full time in Pakistan to get all the privileges of the ruling class, mostly illegally, and loot Pakistan. Their intention to get a second nationality is for two purposes; one, to hide their illegal money in the foreign countries, and two, to run away whenever there is a risk for them to live in Pakistan. While the first type of sincere dual nationals, as mentioned above, earn and send a portion of their income to Pakistan, the later type of dual nationals loot the resources of Pakistan and take away the wealth from Pakistan. These are the persons who are not sincere to Pakistan. However, these insincere persons are holding key positions in Pakistan. It is a pity that even the educated people in Pakistan do not generally differentiate between these two classes of dual nationals. They suspect the sincerity of the sincere dual nationals and tolerate the insincere rather corrupt class of dual national as their rulers.

Posted on Feb 13, 18 | 12:39 pm