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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has supported private members’ Civil Servants (Amendment) Bill 2021 designed to ban recruitment of Civil Servants holding dual nationality or citizenship of any foreign country, well informed sources told Business Recorder.

Secretaries Committee, key body of bureaucrats, is to deliberate on the Bill in the light of Prime Minister’s directives in its forthcoming meeting, the sources added.

Civil Servants (Amendment) Bill 2021 aims to lay down an enabling provision in Section 5 of the Civil Servants Act, 1973 so that a civil servant holding dual nationality or citizenship of any foreign country shall not be entitled for appointment in the Government.

The Bill was originally moved by Jam Abdul Karim Bijar, Syed Agha Rafiullah and Qadir Patel, MNAs, in the National Assembly. The National Assembly passed the bill on November 9, 2021.

The Private Member Bill is now being deliberated in the Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat, where Senator Afnan Ullah Khan is likely to move that the Civil Servants (Amendment) Bill 2021, as passed by the National Assembly, may be taken into consideration at Senate.

The sources said Establishment Division solicited directions from the Prime Minister in his capacity as Minister in-Charge of Establishment Division whether to support or oppose the Bill.

Sub-committee formed to discuss Civil Servants (Amendment) Bill, 2021

Prime Minister agreed to support the Private Member’s Bill and directed that in order to resolve the issue of dual nationality of Civil Servants in a comprehensive manner, the Establishment Division shall place the following suggestions before the Senate Standing Committee for amendment in the Bill: (a) Henceforth, no person holding foreign nationality or dual nationality shall be entitled for initial appointment as a Civil Servant; and (b) considering that in terms of section 3 of Civil Servants Act, 1973, the terms and conditions of Civil Servants are protected and the Supreme Court of Pakistan had passed directions to Federal Government on the issue in SMC No.3/2018, following arrangement may be considered for existing Civil Servants: (i) appointment of any Civil Servant, who is a foreign national and does not hold the nationality of Pakistan shall be terminated; (ii) Civil Servants shall be barred from applying for citizenship or nationality of any other country; (iii) no Civil Servant, holding dual nationality, shall be allowed on a post included in the negative list, to be notified by the Federal Government, for the purpose; (iv) Civil Servants, who are dual nationals and are holding substantive appointment against the post or class or posts included in the negative list, shall within a period of six months be given the irrevocable option to either opt for early retirement or surrender the nationality of any other foreign country; and (v) in case a Civil Servant, as categorized at (4) above, fails to exercise the option within the stipulated period, his/ her appointment shall be liable to termination from service by giving one month’s notice with approval of the requisite authority.

Establishment Division, apart from suggestions in the Bill, has also been directed to consult the Secretaries’ Committee/ Divisions concerned if any other amendments are required to be made in the Civil Servants Act, 1973 and rules made there-under to address the issue in its entirety.

In light of the directions the matter has been examined in Establishment Division and it is observed that the first proviso of the Rule (13) of the Civil Servants (Appointment Promotion & Transfer) Rules, 1973 would be required to be amended. Rule 13 of the Rules provides: “A candidate for appointment shall be a citizen of Pakistan; provided that this requirement may be relaxed with the approval of the Establishment Division; provided further that, in the case of candidates to be appointed on temporary basis to posts in Pakistan Missions abroad, such relaxation shall not be accorded for a period exceeding one year at a time”.

Moreover, Citizenship Act 195 would also require amendment, as at present acquiring or possessing dual nationality is not prohibited under the Citizenship Act 1951, which also allows dual nationality to Pakistani citizens whether in Government Service or not, in certain cases. The Secretaries Committee was due to discuss the Bill in its meeting scheduled to be held on March 25, 2022 (today) but the meeting has been postponed due to political mayhem in the country, the sources maintained.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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