The fate of thousands of “suspected” citizens hangs in balance for years as they wait for the authority’s final decision regarding restoration of their rights
ISLAMABAD – National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has yet to decide cases of over 1,50,000 blocked computerized national identity cards (CNICs) throughout the country while thousands of “suspected” citizens have been waiting for the final decision of the authority to get their citizenship rights restored for the past many years.
According to a document prepared by the Ministry of Interior, as many 1,21,889 blocked CNICs are “complex cases” while 29,892 blocked CNICs come in the “routine category” of the total 151,781 pending blocked CNICs calculated at the end of last year. The ministry now names these blocked CNICs as “digital impounded cases.”
With respect to the pending blocked CNICs or digital impounded cases, Sindh remains at the top where 45,966 CNICs of the suspected citizens, both complex and suspected cases, have been blocked followed by 36,809 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 34,042 in Punjab, and 23,552 in Balochistan. Similarly, as many as 5,817 CNICs have been blocked in erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), 3,520 in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), 1,405 in Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK), 595 people living abroad and 75 CNICs of those being described suspected citizens have been blocked in Gilgit Baltistan (GB).
According to the Ministry of Interior, complex cases are decided by each district level committee (DLC) that comprises of the deputy commissioner of the district concerned as its head, and district police officer, an assistant director of NADRA and representatives of two intelligence agencies—Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Intelligence Bureau (IB)—as its members. While, routine cases are decided by the NADRA’s regional board if the applicant appears before it.
Among the complex cases, NADRA views that most of the people are “suspected aliens” including majority of Afghan nationals while routine cases are only those suspected cases that have been marked allegedly on the basis of facilitating the foreigners for getting their CNICs or for some other reasons.
On the recommendations of the parliamentary committee on blocked CNICs, Ministry of Interior had formed a mechanism for clearance of all blocked CNICs through a notification issued in April 2017.
The Ministry of Interior says that CNICs of individuals are blocked or impounded on the basis of data matching with proof of registration (PoR) cards issued by Pakistan to Afghan refugees, reports of authorized verifying agencies including IB, ISI and police’s Special Branch, and reports of various government departments. The departments are Immigration and Passport (I&P), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Pakistani missions abroad and courts.
In 2016, then Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had ordered a nationwide re-verification drive of over 100 million CNICs of Pakistani citizens to purge the national registration database of those foreigners or aliens who had got issued CNICs on the basis of fake and forged documents. The decision came a couple of days after a Pakistani CNIC and a passport were found near the wreckage of US drone-hit car in which Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour was killed on May 21, 2016. Later, it transpired that both the documents were in the use of Mullah Akhtar Mansour, the then Taliban chief.
At the end of the drive, as many total 3,18,167 CNICs were blocked as NADRA declared the holders suspected citizens and “confirmed aliens”.