ISLAMABAD: Amid growing criticism over dual nationals holding public offices in Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said overseas Pakistanis are the biggest asset of the country as he underlined the need for tapping "resource pool" of experts and professionals living abroad for the country's development. "I don't know why people say that dual nationals cannot get any public office and cannot become a minister and why they (people) move courts every other day," the prime minister was quoted as saying by Dawn.
The prime minister said this while launching a digital banking facility, Roshan Pakistan Digital Account, which will provide innovative banking solutions to millions of non-resident Pakistanis seeking to undertake fund transfers, bill payments and investment activities in Pakistan. "We do not have a bigger asset than that (overseas Pakistanis). Best minds, professionals and entrepreneurs are outside the country. When we will create (conducive) conditions in the country, this big resource pool can return to the country," he added.
At least seven members of Khan's Cabinet were either dual nationals or held another country's permanent residency. All dual nationals were non-elected and working as special assistants to the prime minister, also called as SAPM. The prime minister and members of his Cabinet holding dual nationality faced severe criticism when the assets and status of dual nationality of all non-elected Cabinet members were made public.
In Pakistan, a foreign national cannot contest an election. All the people contesting an election declare their assets before the polls. But there is no such provision for non-elected members. SAPM on Digital Pakistan Tania Aidrus resigned from her post due to the criticism levelled against her and the government because of her dual citizenship.
In a tweet, Aidrus (who also holds Canadian nationality) had said: "Criticism levied towards the state as a consequence of my citizenship status is clouding the purpose of Digital Pakistan." Prime Minister Khan said overseas Pakistanis were the "most patriotic and their expertise" was not utilised in the country. "I know many overseas Pakistanis; they are more patriotic than those living in the country," he added. He termed the launching of Roshan Pakistan Digital Account a historic step and expressed hope that the facility would help increase investment by overseas Pakistanis in the country.