News Analysis: Shehbaz Gill’s return to US and his dual nationality raise questions for both countries

Shehbaz Gill has started giving statements in support of the PTI on social media, criticising the Pakistan Army though in a veiled manner for now

June 06, 2023
PTI leader Shahbaz Gill speaks to Pakistani-Americans in San Francisco. — Shahbaz Gill Twitter

NEW YORK: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Shehbaz Gill’s return to the US and his being a US national have raised several questions for the authorities of both countries. Concerns are also being raised over his return to the US after permission to travel abroad for a few days was granted by a court of law in Pakistan.

Shehbaz Gill has started giving statements in support of the PTI on social media, criticising the Pakistan Army though in a veiled manner for now. It is unclear whether he will work as a PTI foreign agent here or work at an educational institution or he will fly back to Pakistan to appear before the relevant court. However, Gill’s return to the US has raised questions for the US authorities as well as for the Pakistani government.

Gill served as a spokesperson for the Imran Khan government that spearheaded a campaign against the US on the pretext of a cipher. He was a prominent member of Khan’s team. Indulging in anti-US statements and activities in a foreign country is tantamount to breaching the oath of nationality. There are instances of such people having been detained at airports in the US. The US authorities have not taken any notice of Gill’s anti-US rant. So the question arises whether he would face any action over breach of the oath or whether his anti-US statements were to serve the interests of someone. There is no word from the US State Department on this matter.

It is clearly mentioned in instructions on the US passport that when dual nationals will enter his or her native country, their laws will be applicable to him or her. Paragragh No. 14 says that a dual national can face trouble while and need to go for access to consular protection in such a situation. However, those entering Pakistan on the basis of NCOP are bound by the laws of the country and Paragraph-14 is applicable. These instructions are also applicable to those Pakistani-Canadian nationals.

Gill was a prominent member of the PTI government, who during his stay in Pakistan declared himself a green card holder and loyal Pakistani. He was known for his behaviour towards journalists who would ask him tough questions. However, government institutions and opposition remained oblivious to whether he was a green card holder. He is now claiming himself to be a PTI foreign agent. An Islamabad court allowed him to travel abroad for few days. However, his activities show that he would stay in the US instead of coming back to Pakistan. In the US, the authorities confiscate the passport of a person facing an investigation or is arrested in a case there is suspicion that he would flee the country. Here neither state lawyers objected to his plea for travelling abroad nor the court asked for guarantee for his return before allowing him to fly out of the country. It remains to be seen what order the court will give on the next date if he doesn’t return. He would have to make it clear whether he remains loyal to Imran Khan and the PTI or he speaks against them.