ISLAMABAD: In a late night development, President Mamnoon Hussain promulgated on Friday two ordinances merging the country’s two topmost registration organisations — the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) and National Aliens Registration Authority (Nara), apparently to keep an eye on the movement of foreigners against the backdrop of acts of terrorism across the country.
An official handout issued by the Presidency on Friday said: “On a summary initiated by the Ministry of Interior, the President has approved the prime minister’s advice and signed/promulgated the two ordinances namely the Foreigners (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015, and the National Database and Registration Authority (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015.”
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had ordered the merger of Nara into Nadra while presiding over a meeting on law and order in Karachi in March, but the interior ministry delayed the matter for six months.
A senior official of the Presidency told Dawn that the decision to merge the two registration authorities had been taken to scrutinise and collect data of foreigners living in the country.
More than four million foreign nationals of Bangladesh, Myanmar, Africa, Arab and other countries have been living in the country.
National Database and Registration Authority has blamed Nara several times in the past for creating trouble for the former by not properly registering foreign nationals staying in the country.
The issue turned serious when the matter of registration of Bengalis was taken up two years ago.
The Sindh High Court expressed displeasure in March 2013 over the poor performance of Nara in properly documenting thousands of foreign immigrants, especially those living in Karachi. At that time it came to light that although people were blaming National Database and Registration Authority for problems faced by foreigners, the fault lay with Nara.
Nara is responsible for registering people of different nationalities while National Database and Registration Authority registers only locals.
Nara was set up in 2000 to register foreign nationals so that they could get work permit and driving licences from authorities concerned.
Published in Dawn, September 19th, 2015