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Can't clarify Malik's citizenship status: UK border agency

By Rezaul H Laskar
July 06, 2012 13:57 IST
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The United Kingdom Border Agency has refused to clarify the exact status of Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik's British citizenship, an issue that resulted in the suspension of his membership of Pakistan's parliament.

Responding to a request filed by The Express Tribune under Britain's Freedom of Information Law for information on Malik's citizenship, the UK Border Agency said it could "neither confirm nor deny whether we hold the information requested by virtue of Section 40(5)(a) and (b)(ii) (personal information)".

"This would be considered personal information as defined in the Data Protection Act 1998 and therefore confirming or denying would be considered neither fair nor lawful," the Border Agency said in its response.

"These sections of the Act absolve us from the requirement to say whether or not we hold information," the response said.

"This response should not be taken as conclusive evidence that the information you have requested is or is not held by the Home Office," the reply clarified.

Pakistan's Supreme Court suspended Malik's membership of the Senate or upper house of parliament last month after he was unable to produce documents to back up his claim that he had renounced his British citizenship.

At the time, Malik was the interior minister.

He was subsequently appointed senior advisor to the premier on interior affairs so that he could continue heading the interior ministry.

The letter received by The Express Tribune from the UK Border Agency said Malik was supposed to submit a fee of 385 pounds with his application for renouncing his British citizenship.

However, in an affidavit submitted to the supreme court last month, Malik said he paid a fee of 229 pounds.

The communication with the British agency revealed Malik did not pay the right fee for renouncing his British citizenship.

In a related development, Malik has said that he has resigned as the honorary consul general of Niger in the UK.

He was previously criticised for holding the post.

He contended that it was not illegal to hold such a position as many other Pakistanis were holding such posts.

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Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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