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'Pakistani Citizenship Act biased'

world Updated: Dec 20, 2007 15:19 IST
Pakistani Citizenship Act

Pakistan's Citizenship Act discriminates against women and should be amended within six months so that foreign husbands are treated on par with foreign wives, the federal Shariat court has directed.

Till now, foreign husbands of Pakistani women do not get citizenship rights, unlike foreign women married to Pakistani men.

"We are of the view that section 10 of the Citizenship Act is discriminatory, negates gender equality and is in violation of Articles 2-A (Objective Resolution) and 25 (equality of citizens) of the constitution, also against international commitments of Pakistan and, most importantly, is repugnant to the Holy Quran and Sunnah," the court said in a 26-page judgement on Wednesday.

The three-member bench comprising federal Shariat court Chief Justice Haziqul Khairi and Judges Fida Muhammad Khan and Salahuddin Mirza had taken notice of the issue on the basis of a news report.

According to the report, a woman was denied the right to get Pakistani citizenship for her foreign husband though the law entitled a man to obtain citizenship for his alien wife.

"The decision came despite government's opposition on the grounds that a foreign woman marrying a Pakistani man could not be equated with a foreign man married to a Pakistani woman because it would not only legalise the stay of a large number of illegal immigrants, but would also increase their influx," the Dawn reported on Thursday.

The government stated that the amendment to the law would add to unemployment and a foreign husband, after obtaining citizenship, could divorce the woman and move around freely in the country.

Besides, it would also be a blanket approval for all foreign nationals to marry Pakistani women and obtain nationality, and majority of them could even misuse this provision, especially Afghan refugees and illegal Bengali, Bihari and other South Asian immigrants.

The Federal Shariat Court judgement held that Pakistan was committed to giving equal and indiscriminate treatment to its women and to enforce equal rights.