Dual nationality or performance: Mystery shrouds resignations of Pakistan PM’s special aides

Islamabad: Conflicting statements on the part of government ministers in the wake of resignations by two former special aides to Prime Minister Tania Aidrus and Dr Zafar Mirza have left people guessing about the real reason behind their quitting the cabinet.

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Was it their dual nationality status or performance that forced the prime minister to relieve them of their duties?

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Special aide on Digital Pakistan Tania Aidrus and special aide on Health Dr Zafar Mirza tendered their resignations on Wednesday citing criticism by the public as the main reason for their decision. Their resignations were accepted the same day. Aidrus, in her letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan, had regretted that her birth in Canada (over which she had no control) ‘became a distraction to her ability to execute the long-term vision for a Digital Pakistan.’

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“It is unfortunate that a Pakistani’s desire to serve Pakistan is clouded by such issues,” she said. “I always was and shall be a Pakistani,” the letter reads.

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Dr Mirza also attributed the ‘ongoing negative discussion about the role of aides and criticism on the government as the main reason behind his resignation. However, moments after the news of their resignation were reported in the media, some of Prime Minister’s cabinet members in their tweets and statements implied it was not public criticism or dual nationality but poor performance that led to their exit.

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Khan not satisfied with Dr Mirza’s work

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Fawad Chaudhry, Minister for Science & Technology, in a late night TV talk show claimed dual nationality had nothing to do with their resignations.

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He said the work that Tania Aidrus was entrusted with was also being carried out by the National Information Technology Board (NITB) that resulted in overlap.

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He also said there were issues about Dr Mirza’s performance and the Prime Minister was not satisfied with him.

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However, there are also voices supporting the two aides for showing character and courage to step down after public crtiticism.

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Voices in support of two aides

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M Asim Khan, a netizen has commended them “for staying straightforward with zero compromise on what they believe right for them. It’s definitely one’s own choice to retain their foreign citizenship or to surrender it. No logic to criticize their very personal life & choices. Good luck!”

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Petition seeks removal of all aides holding dual nationality

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Meanwhile, a petition has been filed in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) challenging the appointment of dual nationality holders as special assistants to the prime minister.

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The petitioner, Justice Party Chairman Malik Munsif Awan, has based his petition on the grounds that a person who owes allegiance to another country should not be allowed to hold key government office or be involved in making decisions about another country.

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Four of 15 aides are dual nationals

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The petitioner has also drawn the court’s attention to the fact that four of the 15 aides to the prime minister were dual nationals.

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According to the petition special aide on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Sayed Zulfikar Bukhari holds a British nationality, aide on Petroleum Nadeem Babar and aide on Power Division and Coordination of Marketing and Development of Mineral Resources Shahzad Syed Qasim are US nationals, and special aide on Digital Pakistan Tania Aidrus is a Canadian.

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