- Court suspends earlier notification to charge Asghar Haider Rs5m for Pakistani citizenship
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has given the Ministry of Interior Affairs 15 days to decide the matter of awarding Pakistani citizenship to an Indian man, who married a Pakistani woman in 2004.
A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, on Tuesday resumed hearing of the ministry’s two-year-old plea against a Lahore High Court (LHC) order, directing the federal government to grant citizenship to Asghar Haider, an Indian national.
During the hearing, Attorney General Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Javed Khan and amicus curiae Salman Aslam Butt supported that the Indian national should be given Pakistani nationality. However, Additional Attorney General Sajid Ilyas Bhatti, who was appearing on behalf of the ministry, opposed their stance.
Directing the ministry to decide the matter within two weeks, the court suspended its earlier notification to charge the Indian national five million rupees for the citizenship. The bench noted that if someone cannot afford money, then how he could be deprived of his fundamental rights. The ministry had challenged the LHC order in the apex court in 2016.
The sub-section 2 of the Section 10 of the Pakistan Citizenship Act 1951 allows the grant of the citizenship to a national’s foreign wife; however, it prohibits a foreign national husband of a Pakistani woman to attain the Pakistani citizenship.
In its plea, the federal government feared that the LHC did not consider Pakistan’s relations with India and the judgment will cause influx of the Indian citizens into Pakistan, causing a threat to the national security. The petition stated that Asghar Haider had applied for the Pakistani citizenship after marrying Rukhsana in 2004.
He was asked to deposit Rs5 million under the Pakistan Citizenship Act 1951. However, instead of depositing the payment, he (the Indian citizen) had filed a writ petition along with his wife for the grant of the citizenship, which was allowed by the LHC Multan bench on May 18, 2016.
Later, the Interior Ministry challenged the LHC order, saying that the high court has no jurisdiction to grant citizenship and it was mandatory to deposit foreign exchange equivalent to Rs5 million under the Section 20 of the Pakistan Citizenship Act 1951. The government has expressed apprehension that the foreign-origin man after marrying and obtaining the Pakistani nationality would be free to divorce his wife and move freely in the country.