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Pakistan PM Imran Khan loses two top aides after assets, dual nationalities made public

Shortly after Tania Aidrus, Special Assistant to prime minister Imran Khan on ‘Digital Pakistan’ announced her resignation, Special Assistant on Health Dr Zafar Mirza too quit the high-profile job.

File photo of Tania Aidrus in a meeting with Pakistan PM Imran Khan (Picture Courtesy: Twitter @taidrus)

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan lost two of his key aides on Wednesday when they resigned after the assets and dual nationalities of over a dozen of his special assistants were made public, prompting the Opposition to mount an attack on the government.

Shortly after Tania Aidrus, Special Assistant to prime minister on ‘Digital Pakistan’ announced her resignation, Special Assistant on Health Dr Zafar Mirza too quit the high-profile job.

The resignations come amid recent criticism levelled against the government after assets and nationalities of 15 special assistants to Prime Minister Khan were made public last week, revealing that seven of them were either dual nationals or held another country’s permanent residency, as well as the details of their assets, the Express Tribune reported.

Aidrus, a former Google executive who was appointed as the Special Assistant earlier this year and tasked to head the Digital Pakistan initiative, announced her resignation after documents found that she had a Canadian citizenship and was also a resident of Singapore.

Aidrus announced on Twitter that she was resigning due to the criticism against the government because of her dual-citizenship.

“Criticism levied towards the state as a consequence of my citizenship status is clouding the purpose of ‘Digital Pakistan’. In the greater public interest, I have submitted my resignation from the SAPM role. I will continue to serve my country and the PM’s vision to my best ability,” Aidrus tweeted.

She also tweeted the image of her resignation letter that stated she had returned to Pakistan with the singular intent to contribute and develop the vision of a ‘Digital Pakistan’.

Hours after Aidrus’ resignation, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Khan on Health Dr Mirza also tendered his resignation.

“I have resigned as SAPM. I came to Pakistan on a personal invitation of @ImranKhanPTI leaving WHO. I worked hard & honestly. It was a privilege to serve Pakistan. I am satisfied that I leave at a time when Covid-19 has declined in Pakistan as a result of a grand national effort,” Mirza tweeted.

“Due to the ongoing negative discussion about the role of SAPMs & criticism on the gov, I choose to resign.

Pakistani people deserve better health care. I have worked sincerely to contribute to this cause,” he tweeted.

Prime Minister Khan’s Special Assistants who have dual nationalities include, SAPM on Petroleum Nadeem Babar (US), SAPM on Overseas Pakistanis Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari (UK) and SAPM on Power Division Shahzad Qasim (US).

The Opposition parties have demanded that those having dual citizenship should be ousted as they were ineligible to become a Member of Parliament.

There was also an uproar on why the dual nationals were allowed to sit in the Cabinet meetings.

Criticising the government, Pakistan People’s Party leader Senator Sherry Rehman in a video statement questioned how advisers and close aides sitting in the federal Cabinet can be dual nationals when members of parliament are not permitted to hold dual citizenship.

Prime Minister Khan in the past had strongly opposed members with dual citizenship, she said, adding that the prime minister has “taken a U-turn on everything he says”.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Khawaja Asif said the federal Cabinet is always a product of parliament and rules regarding dual nationalities are applicable to both.

“If a foreign national can’t be a Member of Parliament, how can he/she be a member of the Cabinet?” he asked.

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