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December 21, 2011

Farahnaz can become the first victim of new EC rule

Top Story

December 21, 2011

ISLAMABAD: More trouble awaits Husain Haqqani as his US national wife, PPP MNA Farahnaz Ispahani, could be the first victim of Monday’s announcement of the Election Commission (EC) that it would de-seat dual nationality holder lawmakers.
Although there are several senators and MNAs suspected of having dual nationality, it has been officially proved that Farahnaz is a US citizen as the State Department has listed her as such in its list of foreign diplomats with US spouses.
Talking to The News, EC Secretary Ishtiak Ahmad said the rules apply on the incumbent lawmakers and those aspiring for the next elections.
The secretary’s statement is also endorsed by Article 63, which deals with the disqualification of members of the parliament. Article 63 (1) C says that any member would be disqualified if he/she ‘ceases to be a citizen of Pakistan, or acquires the citizenship of a foreign state’. The new EC rules have been framed in line with the parameters set by the constitution.
As the EC clarified in its announcement that actions would be taken against dual nationality holders provided it is directed either by the parliament or by a court of law, some interested persons are preparing to file a petition in the Supreme Court.
Farahnaz was reluctant to speak on this issue when contacted. She instead snapped the call and did not attend the phone despite repeated attempts. However, her dual citizenship is crystal clear as has been affirmed by the US State Department.
A diplomatic listing by the United States has revealed that Farahnaz is a US citizen together with the spouses of envoys of Israel and Haiti.
The US has diplomatic relations with as many as 110 countries and only three countries have ambassadors with US citizens as spouses.
Farahnaz is not only a National Assembly member in Pakistan, she sits in the all important presidency as an adviser to President Zardari.
A powerful federal minister, who spent numerous years in exile, is

also believed to hold UK nationality. The spouse of a top economic team manager and of a chief development planner are also said to be US nationals. Pakistan’s Auditor General Akhtar Buland Rana has already been disclosed to be a Canadian national.
Questions are also being asked whether a key member of the present cabinet with a medical background but who runs a ministry dealing with natural resources is a Canadian passport holder. There are reports indicating that two sons of a big gun have secured Canadian immigration.
As for Farahnaz Ispahani’s case her US nationality has been disclosed in the context that she cannot enjoy diplomatic immunity like the non-US national spouses of the diplomatic staff stationed in Washington.
The State Department’s list compiled in January this year states: “A diplomatic agent’s family members are entitled to the same immunities unless they are United States national. Asterisks (*) identify US nationality”.
While going through the list of the diplomatic staff of different countries, Pakistan still has Husain Haqqani in the list as the country’s ambassador with Farahnaz mentioned as her spouse marked with asterisks. Pakistan has numerous examples when Pakistanis who live abroad, many of whom have acquired dual nationality, arrived, enjoyed good time in power and then went abroad.

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