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Wednesday December 08, 2021

Opposition slams govt over nationalities of PM Khan’s aides

July 20, 2020

ISLAMABAD: A day after details of the assets and nationalities of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s advisers and special assistants were released by the government, the opposition on Sunday latched onto the fact that a number of dual nationality holders were in vital positions in the cabinet.

According to the Cabinet Division’s disclosures, four special assistants to the Prime Minister hold dual nationalities — the PM’s aide on petroleum Nadeem Babar (American), aide on overseas Pakistanis Zulfi Bukhari (British), aide on Power Division Syed Shahzad Qasim (American) and aide on Digital Pakistan Tania Aidrus (Canadian).

Among those holding foreign residences abroad are political communications aide Shahbaz Gill (US), aide on National Security Moeed Yousuf (US), aide on parliamentary coordination Nadeem Gondal (Canada) and Aidrus (Singapore).

Reacting to the disclosures, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) spokeswoman and lawmaker referred to the Prime Minister’s past stance that “it is not possible to come to Parliament with dual nationality. You become a minister, you make decisions for the country. If you have a passport of another country, you should not sit in the Assembly”. She also wrote Khan’s “hypocrisy is shameless as his duplicity is destroying a nation. All Imran Khan is missing is a flute”.

PML-N Deputy Secretary General Ataullah Tarar, in a press conference in Lahore on Sunday, demanded the placement of those who possess dual citizenship or permanent residency abroad on the Exit Control List. “If these people flee to any country tomorrow, who will be responsible?” he asked.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Sherry Rehman said Prime Minister Khan “has repeatedly said he stands against govt aides, advisers, ministers who swear an oath of allegiance to another country. What happened to Made in Pakistan?” She added: “If members of Parliament can’t be dual nationals how can advisers and aides who sit in cabinet?” Rehman also tweeted a video montage of the Prime Minister criticising dual nationalities of lawmakers.

Fellow PPP lawmaker Nafisa Shah said the issue of dual citizenship and overseas assets of the Prime Minister’s advisers and special assistants are “highly sensitive” and the disclosures have opened a Pandora’s Box.

Sindh government spokesman Murtaza Wahab said the presence of dual nationals in the federal cabinet was a “security risk”, according to Geo News. “The makers of Naya Pakistan have included consultants from abroad in the cabinet,” he added. “Prime Minister Niazi, like on every other issue, took a U-turn on this issue.”

He also said the presence of people with foreign citizenship in sensitive matters was a “serious matter”. “Imran Khan committed a crime by including dual nationals in the cabinet,” Wahab claimed.

PM’s aide Shahbaz Gill later clarified: “I am only a Pakistani citizen and I have neither citizenship nor passport of any other country. Only Pakistani passport. I never hid it.”

Separately, PM’s aide Moeed Yusuf said: “I have not returned to the US since I took up my current responsibility, have no employment or income in the US. Nor do I have any millions worth properties abroad as is being insinuated. I or my family have No fixed property anywhere but Pakistan. Stop spreading lies.”