Supreme Court’s Ruling in Zulfi Bukhari’s Favor Opens Door (a Bit) For Dual Nationals

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ISLAMABAD — British-Pakistani national Zulfi Bukhari will continue as Prime Minister Imran Khan’s special assistant on overseas Pakistanis and human resource development but can’t claim the status of a minister after the top court dismissed a petition against him on Wednesday.

The decision opens the door–a bit though for dual nationals–the PTI-led government has launched an outreach program to tap notable and distinguished overseas Pakistanis for advisory, consultancy and even full time supplemental roles.

The top court clarified that Parliament has to legislate on dual nationals employment in the government, it did not impose ban.

The Supreme Court while dismissing the petition seeking Bukhari’s disqualification under Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution and its December 15 verdict on dual nationals holding important government positions, clarified that the court had not imposed a ban in the dual nationality case and had instead only made its recommendations to the parliament.

“We only gave recommendations to the parliament, we value overseas Pakistanis a lot,” top judge Justice Saqib Nisar said during the hearing in Lahore today.

The petitioner’s argument before the three-member bench of the apex court, under Chief Justice ‘s stewardship, was that the Supreme Court’s decision on dual nationality holders applies to Bukhari.

The top court in its December 15 verdict, had declared that persons with dual nationality could not retain important government positions as they should choose between a government job and a foreign nationality.

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Justice Ijazul Ahsan contested the petitioner’s claim, with the chief justice suggesting that, “You should have challenged the rules of business against Zulfi Bukhari’s appointment”.

“The appointment of a special assistant is the prime minister’s right,” Justice Ahsan said, adding: “Zulfi Bukhari’s case does not come under Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution.”

Bukhari’s counsel Aitzaz Ahsan also contested the petitioner’s claim, saying that his client “has not claimed the status of a state minister”.

At this, the chief justice told the petitioner that the court cannot sack Bukhari on his petition and can only make suggestions to the parliament.

Justice Nisar, however, sought details of Bukhari’s credentials and ordered that the summary through which he was appointed a special assistant be presented in the court.

“If appointing his special assistant is the prime minister’s right, it does not mean that he can do whatever he likes,” the judge remarked.

After the hearing resumed following a break, the court set aside the petition but barred Bukhari from claiming the status of a minister, warning that “if he goes beyond his mandate then we will look into this matter.”

The petition had been moved by Mirza Moiz Baig and Adil Chattha, two recent graduates of the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).

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