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ISLAMABAD: A meeting of the sub-committee of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resources Development has urged the government to project the soft image of the country through proactive diplomacy to attract investment and promote tourism in the country subsequent to improvement of law and order situation.

A three-member sub-committee chaired by Dr Mahreen Razzaq Bhutto sought detailed briefing from the officials of the Ministry of Interior and Foreign Affairs over steps taken of exemption of visa on diplomatic and official passports.

While briefing to the committee, official of the Ministry of Interior informed the meeting that Pakistan has signed visa abolition agreement with 48 countries and visa abolition agreements for diplomatic and Pakistani passport holders with Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Hungary, South Africa, and Uzbekistan are in process and pending with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

However, the committee has sought a list of the countries that provides reciprocal visa exemption facility to Pakistan and also those who have been allowing visa exemption to Pakistan in the past but are no longer allowing now as members of the committee pointed out that even Central Asian countries except two countries, have not yet allowed visa exemption to Pakistan.

However, the members did not specify the two countries that allowed visa exemption to Pakistan, however, Javed Husnain, committee member pointed out that till 31st December 1985, the UK government was allowing entry in the UK on green passport but regretted that Pakistani authorities did not take up the matter with them when this facility was being withdrawn.

On the issue of dual nationality, the Ministry of Interior informed the meeting that as per procedure, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs initiates negotiation regarding dual nationality arrangements with foreign governments.

On receipt of stance of the foreign governments, the matter is referred to the concerned quarters IMPASS, IB, and the ISI for views and comments.

After receipt of views/comments from concerned quarters approval of the federal government is required to notify country as the one with which Pakistan will have dual nationality arrangements.

The meeting was informed that the government of Pakistan has notified 21 countries with which Pakistan has dual nationality.

Two countries, namely, Czech Republic and Luxemburg will be included in the list of countries having a dual nationality arrangement with Pakistan through an official notification in the gazette by the present government.

The major issue faced by dual nationals is the resumption of nationality after renouncing of Pakistani citizenship except for minor children. All individuals who have renounced Pakistan citizenship and have acquired the nationality of that country with which there was no prior dual nationality agreement cease to be Pakistani national. While there is no provision in Pakistan Citizenship Act, 1951, regarding resumption of citizenship of Pakistan by former Pakistani citizens after renouncing citizenship of Pakistan except for minor children attaining the age of 21 years.

The dual nationals and the Pakistani diaspora residing in countries which recently had a dual nationality arrangement with Pakistan are facing problems such as not being able to get a CNIC, NICOP or a Pakistani passport.

To ameliorate the sufferings of the dual nationals, Directorate General Immigration and Passports has submitted Amendment Bill regarding the insertion of sub-section (3) in Section 14-A of Pakistan Citizenship Act, 1951 that any person who has renounced citizenship of Pakistan under relevant sub-section can resume citizenship of Pakistan by making a declaration in that behalf in the prescribed manner and upon making of such declaration shall become a citizen of Pakistan.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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