The Peshawar High Court (PHC) has ordered the Ministry of Interior to decide the citizenship issue being sought by the Afghan spouse of a Pakistani woman, Zeenat Begum. The couple’s children are facing problems as their father doesn’t have the National Identity Card (NIC). The court informed that Mr Tahir was not entitled to an NIC unless he obtained the citizenship certificate under section 10(2) of the Pakistan Citizenship Act, 1951, after applying to the federal government through the interior secretary. However, there is a legal lacuna as the said section allows foreign wives of Pakistani nationals to become citizens, but the same was denied to foreign husbands of Pakistani women.
Advocate Kakakhel argued that Section 10(2) of the Pakistan Citizenship Act, 1951, was discriminatory and didn’t treat men and women equally. He referred to a 2008 judgement of the Federal Shariat Court (FSC), which declared Section 10 of the Citizenship Act unconstitutional and against Islam. The PHC bench dismissed the plea and directed the petitioners to approach the ministry. The court ruled that after obtaining the requisite citizenship certificate, Mr Tahir would be entitled to an NIC.
This is not the first time the provision dealing with the citizenship of a foreign spouse has been challenged. In October 2022, the PHC declared that a Pakistani woman’s Afghan husband was entitled to the Pakistan Origin Card. In December last year, a US national moved the court seeking orders for the government to grant him nationality for marrying a local woman two years ago.