The Nation Responds

Dear Sir or Madam:

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As always, Pak Media Watch holds a special place in its heart for the instruction and correction of alleged errors made by The Nation, for which we are ever grateful. It gives us the long-awaited and only chances we have of interacting with PMW.

We are, however, at a loss to identify just what about the rather prosaic and quotidian editorial on the SC’s dual nationality ruling our friends at Pak Media Watch found so stimulating/alarming as to be described as “sensationalist”. It is encouraging to see, that the research which we have been rapped over the knuckles for avoiding, has been diligently carried out by PMW for our benefit.

However, a close acquaintance with the intricacies of US law is certainly not our forte, a lapse that we will attempt to correct…that is, as soon as we get to grips with Pakistani courts and the complexities contained in their judgments.

The post chastises The Nation for “misleading…claims” regarding the “bearing of arms” mentioned in the oath taken by US citizens. The statements reproduced in our editorial have one glaring and obvious mistake, which we are resolved to learn from: the use of exact phrases lifted from the SC judgement without quotation marks.

Naturally, as PMW eyes The Nation’s accuracy with suspicion, may we here present links to related stories from The News and Express Tribune, to alleviate any confusion about just where the phrase “bearing arms” came from. (Please apply spectacles, if necessary, and read point 5 in the judgement, the full text of which is contained in The News link, below.)

Alas, the reams of US law quoted above on the subject are entirely irrelevant, as, it is the Pakistani Supreme Court, which has taken issue with the idea of a member of Parliament (no one else, mind you) holding dual nationality and found it to be suspect of conflict with Article 63 (1) c of the (Pakistani) constitution.

While Pak Media Watch has charged The Nation with failing to conduct basic background research, we must humbly point out that PMW has conducted extensive background research, albeit, on the wrong country’s laws. The stress and emphasis placed on the rulings of the US Supreme Court (mentioned no less than 6 times in the PMW post) as opposed to the Pakistan Supreme Court (mentioned not even once) are about as necessary in an editorial in The Nation, as a swimsuit for a trip to the ice planet of Hoth.

In response to the author’s expectation of a full correction by The Nation editors based on the well-meant, but ultimately blindly directed research, presented by PMW and keeping in mind their penchant for references from foreign cases, we could beg to submit the same response as in Arkell v Pressdram – but have opted to desist.

Yours sincerely, etc etc.

PMW Responds:

We greatly appreciate The Nation recognising that factually incorrect information was included in its editorial regarding the requirements for dual nationals under US law to rescind any previous citizenship and equally we appreciate The Nation‘s public announcement that the editors are “resolved to learn from” their mistake and “will attempt to correct” the error. In doing so, The Nation stands apart by showing its willingness to admit its mistakes, learn from them, and as such sets an example for other media groups while it improves the quality of journalism it provides its readers.

We would also like to answer The Nation‘s questions and concerns regarding other elements of our post. We felt that, whether intended or unintended by the authors, the inclusion of the phrase “even to the extent of bearing arms” might give some readers the false impression that the 700,000 Pakistani-Americans – many of whom hold both American and Pakistani passports and regularly travel between the two countries – represent a looming national security threat. We were unable to find any research that would warrant such a fear.

As to whether “the reams of US law quoted above on the subject are entirely irrelevant” to the factual errors admitted by The Nation, we humbly disagree: The editors incorrectly told their readers that the US does not accept dual citizens and anyone taking US citizenship is required to “abjure” any previous citizenship. As we have shown, this is not true.

Having nothing but the greatest respect for the Supreme Court, and being a blog about the media and not the judiciary, we did not feel the need to mention that institution even once. Neither do we take issue (either for or against) with the view projected by The Nation‘s editorial – we believe the editors have every right to their own views. Being that the point of our original post was to correct factual errors about American law and not the (Pakistan) Constitution, we must admit some confusion as to why The Nation would think it necessary for us to reference anything but US law.

In closing, we would like to thank the The Nation for reminding us of that historic case of Arkell v Pressdram as we have long been inspired by the involved publication’s willingness to speak truth without fear or favour, and their tireless dedication to the investigative research required to get their facts in order before they publish.

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