Sydney (Tribune Report); Prominent Members of the community and representatives of community organisations, media and branches of political parties of Pakistan participated in the first meeting of the ‘International Forum of Dual
National Pakistanis (IFDNP)’ in Sydney.
Except one to two unclear messages, all speakers clearly demanded, dual national Pakistanis equal and fair rights in all the fields and professions in Pakistanis through amending the unjust law of Citizenship Act of Pakistan.
Ten speakers from the prominent community organisations, local media and branches of political parties of Pakistan in Australia (MQM, PTI and Minhaj ul Quran): Mr. Shahid Javed a media-blog-writer ‘Sada-e-Shahid’;, Mr. Zawar Hussain Shah of Rabitah International local Urdu magazine; Mr. Muhammad Munir, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher of Rabitah International; Mr. Zahid Minhas of Doti Multicultural Arts; Mr. Mohammed Ilyas of MQM Australia; Mr.
Waqas Bashir President PTI Australia; Mr. Shams ul Arifeen President Minhaj ul Quran Australia; Mr. Asif Khawaja an educationist and member of Minhaj ul Quran; Dr. Ali Sarfraz a Community Leader; Mohammed Naseer an active member of the Pakistani Community; and Mr. Aijaz Ahmed Khan, Political Analyst of Voice of Tribune; took part in the forum.
A very senior Australian Politician and Federal Parliamentarian Hon Laurie Ferguson was the Chief Guest of the occasion.
Syed Atiq ul Hassan, Sydney-based Journalist, Writer, Author of ‘Australia For Pakistanis’, Editor-in-Chief of Tribune & Producer/Presenter of Voice of Tribune, was the host of the forum.
The attendees were welcomed by Syed Atiq ul Hassan. The functions started with the
recitation of Holy Quran by Mr. Asif Khuwaja.
Mr. Shahid Javed who came to Australia in 2010 as an immigrant said that though he was still a permanent residence but expecting his Australian citizenship soon, therefore, he supported the demand that overseas Pakistanis should be equally treated as patriotic and loyal Pakistanis, however, if the constitution of Pakistan didn’t allow dual nationals to contest the elections then we have to respect that. Mr. Zawar Hussain Shah distributed the hardcopies of his suggestions to the attendees prior to his speech. Mr. Shah said that the aim of the forum was genuine and must be achieved. He suggested the organiser of the forum and other fellows to take everyone on board and decisions should be made collectively.
Hon Laurie Ferguson who takes lot of interest in the issues of Pakistani community while addressing the issue of dual nationals said that this is an international issue now and not only for Pakistani dual nationals. He said that Australia had a very strange law in the past and
according to that law you could have as many as citizenships before come to Australia and have an Australian citizenship beside your other citizenships, but if move to another country and got any other citizenship then you lost Australian citizenship. This law was changed because the time was changed the need was different. Now the world has changed, people are moving around the world, they have to do business, invest money, buy land, and work on executive roles in other countries, therefore, dual nationality is an opportunity to work for the world. He said, he fully supports the agenda of the forum. Hon Laurie Ferguson’s comments largely applauded by the attended with thanks.
Mr. Mohmmed Ilyas of MQM Australia said that his party (MQM) has been fighting for this demand and wanting to make amendment in the Citizenship Act for the last 2 years or so. He said the people who don’t want change in the law are the people who want to retain the status quo in Pakistan. He said, the landlords and feudal of Pakistan don’t want equal opportunity and equal rights to everyone…, they don’t want highly skilled people to go back to Pakistan and serve the country in different professions including politics but now the time is changing and this unjust law will be changed.
Mr. Waqas Bashir said, overseas Pakistan should get the equal opportunities in Pakistan including dual nationals but this is the time we should focus on coming elections and vote for the right people who then will be able to fix all these issues.
Mr. Zahid Minhas said that Pakistanis in Australia should join the local politics and support the
local parliamentarian so that our issues belong to Pakistan should get stronger voice. He said,
we should continue to help Pakistan and show Pakistani politicians how they can work better for Pakistan and the people of Pakistan.
Mr. Muhammad Munir in speech appreciated the efforts of the organiser holding the forum, he supported the agenda, however, he said that there must be a criteria to be set for dual national to participate in the elections or working in executive role…. this is the job of the community members to provide their views and thoughts on the issue, our (media) job is to bring their issues, views and thoughts in the media.
Mr. Shams ul Arifeen said that we should appreciate the organiser to hold this valuable event.
He said, Overseas Pakistanis are about 7 million and we contribute 8 percent of GDP of Pakistan whereas the contribution of entire Pakistan is less than 5 percent. The overseas Pakistanis contribute about 8 percent of the GDP… ., demanding the amendment in the constitution in order to provide equal political rights to dual national Pakistanis means that we want to bring good people in the parliament who can run the country in a better way.
Mr. Mohammed Naseer said, on the agenda of the demand of dual national Pakistanis everyone has to come forward doesn’t matter which party or group we belong to as this is our common issue.
Mr. Aijaz Ahmed Khan described the history of nations and how they dealt with Citizenship act. He said that there was a time League of Nations said that a person couldn’t have
nationality of any other country then the states and countries realised and made necessary changes to their constitutions. Since they opened themselves for others they received respect and acknowledgement from others. He said that he supported this demand because he did not like discrimination among human being.
Mr. Asif Khawaja in the end asked all the members to expand IFDNP network on social network and ask people to join the forum on IFDNP face book.
Syed Atiq ul Hassan ran the entire proceeding of the forum and gave his arguments in support of the demands of the IFDNP in between the speakers’ speeches. Particularly, he said that Pakistan has to learn from the civilised nations like Australia. He said that the legislation on dual nationality of Pakistanis was incorporated in the Constitution of Pakistan in 1951, since
then many amendments have been made fulfilling the needs of the time and to deal with the change in the circumstances of the country in different times so can’t it be changed now. He said the world is now open for everyone…. in Australia, people from more 150 nationalities live together and every 3rd person either was born outside Australia or his/her parents were born in outside Australia, significant number of people hold dual nationality including Pakistani Australians. He said that the White Australia Policy was abolished only four decades ago, in 1973 and Australia changed and received highest reputation and respect in the world after the demolition of White Australia Policy. Today, Australia is a developed nation, safer and secure then prior to 1973. Mr. Hassan said that the activities for forum will continue and expanded until the demands are not met. Very soon next action will be announced.