Yes, if they want to, they should.
At present, they donâ€™t. Pakistan Citizenship Act currently allows a foreigner girl marrying a Pakistani man to get Pakistani citizenship but not vice versa.
Recently, this question of gender equality got a boost from Federal Shariat Court in Pakistan as they declared the Pakistani Citizenship Act, 1951, to be discriminatory against women. On December 19, 2007, the Federal Shariat Court has asked the president of Pakistan to amend the Pakistan Citizenship Act within six months so that a womanâ€™s foreign husband could get Pakistani citizenship, just like a foreign women married to Pakistani men.
In a 26-page judgment announced by the court, it says:
â€œWe 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,â€
According to Dawn news report of December 20, 2007:
The three-member bench comprising FSC Chief Justice Haziqul Khairi, Justice Dr Fida Muhammad Khan and Justice Salahuddin Mirza had taken suo motu notice on a news report in which 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.
This same issue was also brought as a legislative bill before the recently out-gone National Assembly on March 18, 2004 but it got killed by the Government after a delibration of two years. The pretext of Government was that a foreign woman marrying a Pakistani man is not same as a foreign man married to a Pakistani woman. Granting citizenship to foreigner men by marrying a Pakistani girl would not only legalize the stay of a large number of illegal immigrants, but would also increase their influx.
The government also stated that the amendment to the current Pakistan Citizenship Act would add to unemployment and a foreign husband, after obtaining the citizenship, could divorce the woman and move around freely in the country.
Besides, in the Government view, 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 and other South Asian immigrants.
I for one, do not agree with above points at all. I believe a family is the unit of society. Government laws should help keeping families together as well as without any gender bias. Laws should be same for both men and women. Therefore in my view the judgment of Federal Shariat Court is the correct one and if acted on, it will go long way in giving equal rights to women and men.
1. Policy for Pakistani Citizenship
2. Paranoia and Patriotism by Irfan Hussain, Dawn, June 17, 2006.
3. MPs for Review of Citizenship Laws: Discrimination Against Women, Dawn, August 25, 2006.
4. Human Righs Commission of Pakistan