Pak SC suspends Ispahani membership of Par

Islamabad: Pakistan`s Supreme Court today suspended senior PPP leader and President Asif Ali Zardari`s media advisor Farahnaz Ispahani`s membership of Parliament on the ground that she possesses dual Pakistani and American citizenship.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry issued the order suspending Ispahani`s membership of the National Assembly or lower house of Parliament while hearing a petition challenging the dual nationality of several lawmakers, including Interior Minister Rehman Malik.

Ispahani is the media advisor to Zardari and wife of Pakistan`s former envoy to the US, Husain Haqqani. Her husband was forced to quit his position last year after he was linked to a mysterious memorandum that had sought US help to prevent a feared military coup in Pakistan after the killing of Osama bin Laden.

During the hearing, the Chief Justice questioned how a "foreigner" could sit in Pakistan`s parliament and decide the destiny of the people. The bench observed that the US oath of citizenship states that Americans would have to take up arms, if necessary, to defend their country.

The bench questioned why Ispahani had concealed her dual nationality before sitting in the National Assembly and observed that she "might have collected secret information regarding sensitive matters, particularly defence and foreign issues".

The bench further said the action was being taken as lawmakers with dual nationality could become ministers or even the Prime Minister. In her reply to the bench, Ispahani stated that dual citizenship was allowed by the laws and constitution of Pakistan.

Interior Minister Malik`s counsel sought more time to present a certificate that he had renounced his British citizenship.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had issued notices to Malik and Ispahani in connection with a petition challenging their membership of parliament. The petition had alleged that two other lawmakers had British citizenship.