Prime Minister Imran Khan made it clear long ago that loyalty to Pakistan required official documentation. If it doesn’t say ‘Pakistani’ on your passport, you are not fit to hold a position in government. In his defence, however, this isn’t an entirely unreasonable argument. Nations all over the world stipulate that those applying for government office have to be citizens of the country in question. Insofar as unacceptability is concerned, dual nationalities work in much the same way.
This is the reason Tania Aidrus, special assistant to the prime minister and leader of the Digital Pakistan project, signed her resignation letter dated 28th July. She wrote: “I believe the recent discourse in the public sphere about my Canadian nationality, which is a consequence of my birth and not an acquisition of choice, is a distraction to my ability to execute on the long term vision for a Digital Pakistan.”
With regretful undertones, she also went on to write that it was unfortunate for well-meaning Pakistanis to encounter such roadblocks when attempting to serve their country.
The wave of criticism came after it was revealed – purportedly on Khan’s demand – that four special assistants to the prime minister held dual nationalities while another four possessed residencies of other countries. Opposition parties raised a hue and cry as a result, which mitigated the issue and drove Aidrus to surrendering her post.
Such posturing is nothing new. In 2018, the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar’s leadership ordered that all civil servants holding federal and provincial offices discard their second nationalities if they wished to keep their jobs.
One major reason governments prohibit citizens from holding dual nationalities is because they worry it might prevent citizens from serving that country with the integrity such an act requires. For instance, the Dutch government states that a dual nationality might confuse one’s priorities: what if a home country requires its citizens to do an obligatory stint in the military?
While this may be the case for some nations, there did not seem to be any such confusion of priorities for Tania Aidrus. In fact, she abandoned an esteemed position at Google last year to come work for the prime minister. Moreover, Imran Khan himself is a man who once had one foot in England and the other in Pakistan. But he proved his loyalties in the end. Should others not be given the same chance?