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Friday, January 11, 2013

Laws with respect to dual citizenship must be more straightforward

Time and again, the debate over possessing dual citizenship has come to the fore across the globe. The debate has once again resurfaced as the Pakistani Supreme Court has debarred 12 federal and provincial lawmakers, including Interior Minister Rehman Malik, on September 20, 2012, for breaching provisions of the Constitution by holding dual nationality. The primary concern for those who oppose dual citizenship is how can an individual be really loyal to two different nations at the same time, especially if one is politically associated or working for the government in one of the nations?

On the one hand, there are countries like China, India, Philippines, Germany, to name a few, which completely forbid dual nationality, on the other hand, countries like Canada, Israel, United Kingdom, United States and Australia allow dual citizenship. However, the process of issuing dual citizenship has not gone through a smooth transition. Dual citizenship was regarded as an 'evil' just like statelessness till 1960s. Then, the concept of dual citizenship became acceptable by several nations due to numerous reasons like enhancement of multicultural toleration, strict regulations against gender discrimination, development of international relations under global peace and changing perceptions of state interests in migration. As per media reports, 573,324 dual citizenships were issued in 91 countries by the end of March, 2010. Somehow, it has come under the scanner in the light of an alarming rise of terrorist activities. 

However, the Pakistani Supreme Court's verdict is not the first of its kind. In fact, dual citizenship remains a hotly contested issue in several Caribbean nations, such as Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada and Guyana. The debate over allowing dual citizens to participate in general election has intensified ahead of Jamaica’s each and every electoral poll since 2007. Even in the Netherlands, dual nationality has become a hot issue in politics after the assassination of Pim Fortuyn just nine days before the general election of 2002.
In this light, the dual citizenship law in countries like Pakistan, Jamaica and Netherlands should immediately be amended to either completely ban dual nationality, especially for politicians and government officials or adopt an approach in the lines of the US and UK. The country's sovereignty must be protected at any cost. A "my way or the highway" approach would not do any good in that aspect.

IIPM Mumbai Campus

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