The Pakistan Citizenship Act (Act No.II of 1951) was enacted on April 13, 1951 to supersede the Government of India Act, 1935. Under this Act, women now have equal rights with men to acquire, change or retain their nationality. Citizenship is determined by birth, by parentage, by marriage and by a combination of all these factors.
It is stated in the Pakistan Citizenship Act that:
Every person born in Pakistan after the commencement of the Act shall be a citizen of Pakistan by birth.
There is no distinction between male and female, nor is this form of citizenship dependent on the person’s father, mother or any ascendant being a citizen (Section 4).
At the time of the commencement of the Act, a person who was residing outside Pakistan could be registered as a citizen of Pakistan if she/he or her/his father or her/his father’s father was born within the territories included in Pakistan (Section 8).
Citizenship by Migration
Citizenship by migration is governed under section 6 of the Citizenship Act. It says that a person may be registered as a citizen of Pakistan who migrated to territories included in Pakistan with the intention of residing permanently. His wife, if any, and any minor child or his dependants whether wholly or partially dependent upon him will also become citizens of Pakistan.
Section 10(2) provides for the grant of citizenship to the foreign wife of a Pakistani citizen. Subject to the provision of sub-section (1) and sub-section (4), a woman who has been married to a citizen of Pakistan or to a person who but for his death would have been a citizen of Pakistan under section 3, 4 or 5 shall be entitled, on applying to the Federal Government in the prescribed manner, and, if she is an alien, on obtaining a certificate of domicile and taking the oath of allegiance in the form set out in the Schedule to this Act, to be registered as a citizen of Pakistan who marries a Pakistani national.
The law does not require a Pakistani woman to lose her nationality if she marries a non-Pakistani.
The Citizenship Act of 1951 was amended in 2000 to enable women of Pakistani descent to claim Pakistani nationality for their children born to foreign husbands. Earlier the law allowed giving Pakistani nationality to a child only if his or her father was a Pakistani national, based on the principle of right to citizenship by descent only from the father’s side. This provision acted against the interests of Pakistani women marrying foreigners and living outside Pakistan. This has now been changed. The law does need one more amendment i.e. conferring the right to Pakistani nationality to the husband of a Pakistani woman married to a foreigner. The National Commission on the Status of Women has recommended that the law should be amended appropriately. The Ministry of Women Development has initiated the process to do so.
Section 14-A gives equal authority to men and women for renouncing nationality. However only the father has the right of renunciation for minor children. Any citizen (male or female) who is not a minor and has been assured of citizenship of any other country on renouncing his citizenship of Pakistan can do so.
Women can acquire a passport in the same manner as men. A woman’s minor children can be entered on her passport. Minor children are generally not issued separate passports. The father’s consent for entry of minor children’s names on their mother’s passport is not required. Women are free to travel on their own passports and no restrictions have ever been applied on their travel within Pakistan.
Article 37, clauses b and c – state “The State shall (b) remove illiteracy and provide free and compulsory secondary education within the minimum possible period (c) make technical and professional education generally available and higher education accessible to all on the basis of merit.” These provisions are non-discriminatory. Read with Article 34, “Steps shall be taken to ensure full participation of women in all spheres of national life” these can be interpreted as favoring girls and women.
Education is a provincial subject under the Constitution. Each province has its own laws on education. Three of the four provinces of Pakistan i.e. Punjab, NWFP and Sindh have enacted the Compulsory Primary Education Act for boys and girls of age group (5-9). Balochistan is expected to enforce similar arrangements. There is also a Federal Supervision of Curricula, Textbooks and Maintenance of Standards of Education Act 1976.
The administrative framework consists of the Ministry of Education at the federal level and Education Departments in the provinces. A Minister heads the Federal Ministry of Education. Until late 2004 Minister was a woman. The Ministry of Education is responsible for setting broad policies on educational matters in the country. It is also responsible for public sector educational institutions in the Islamabad Capital Territory.
The provincial education departments are responsible for primary, secondary and higher secondary schools in the respective provinces. Each provincial capital has a university with its affiliated colleges. The Governor of the respective province is the chancellor of the university. Many other cities also have universities. Some professional educational institutions have also been granted the status of universities.
A number of institutions of higher learning are reserved exclusively for women. These include the Fatima Jinnah Medical College in Lahore and the Fatima Jinnah Women’s University in Rawalpindi.
The provincial education departments have a number of regional boards to conduct examinations for classes up to the intermediate (twelve years of education) level. Textbook boards have been established to set the curricula.
Co-education is generally allowed up to primary education level (up to grade V) but not practiced in all schools. Beyond primary it is allowed only if the requisite facilities and services for female students are available or accessible. In such cases female students are permitted to attend educational institutions meant for male students. There is generally no provision for male students to attend institutions meant for females. However new primary schools are called girls’ schools even though boys will also be admitted to these. This is due to an emphasis on girls’ education.
Most professional colleges and many degree colleges have coeducation. The criterion for admission is the marks obtained in the entrance examination conducted by the institution and/or the marks at the previous level of education. The process is generally held to be non-discriminatory and transparent. Students who feel they have been discriminated against have recourse to the courts. Many exercise this option and the courts consider and decide such cases on merit.
There is a vast and rapidly growing system of private education. It is estimated that about 33% of the students at the primary and secondary level attend these schools. This system usually caters to children of the more affluent segments of the society and private schools are generally considered to be better than the government-run schools. An interesting feature of this system is that the owners, administrators and faculty of the majority of the primary, secondary and intermediate level schools are women. Generally girls do better than the boys in these schools in “O” and “A” level examinations.