Blocked computerised national identity cards (CNICs) have been causing multiple problems for the affected citizens and in some areas of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administered Tribal Area they are even unable to go out of their localities due to strict security checking at various barriers of police and security forces.
Everyone knows that keeping CNIC in pocket has become unavoidable as it can be checked anytime while on board a vehicle or crossing a security checkpoint on foot, particularly in cantonment areas.
Besides going for Haj, umrah, sale purchase of properties or seeking loan from any bank, CNIC is also needed for preparation of documents like driving licence, children’s admission, employment, visits to any restricted building, obtaining visa, etc.
“I have used my CNIC for performing Haj and umrah and have a passport, but even then my CNIC was blocked,” says Jehanzeb Khan, a shopkeeper at Nauthia Bazaar.
However, one can observe how the people, both male and female, are humiliated while requesting for opening of their blocked CNICs at the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) offices, especially at its verification centre.
Checking of passengers and their CNICs in parts of KP and Fata has become a common sight. Long queues of people producing their identity cards can be seen at different checkpoints on the main roads from both sides and those not having the CNIC are supposed to face serious problems.
During a visit to local offices of Nadra a number of people told this correspondent that they had been visiting the offices for renewal of their CNICs, but in vain as their identity cards were blocked on the basis of doubt. They urged the government to take action against those who helped Afghan nationals in obtaining fake CNICs as they had actually created problems for the local people.
“I have been trying to obtain my renewed CNIC, but it has been blocked and the officials concerned are using delaying tactics to clear me though I am a Pakistani national with a long history of being a permanent resident of Peshawar,” said Jehanzeb Khan, a shopkeeper at Nauthia Bazaar.
He said that all of his family members, including his children, had the CNIC, but his was blocked for the only reason that my forefathers had come to Peshawar from Mohmand Agency long ago. “I have used my CNIC for performing Haj and umrah and have a passport, but even then my CNIC was blocked,” he said. Mr Jehanzeb said that after repeated visits to various offices of Nadra the relevant investigation officers had cleared him about a year ago, but even then new national identity card was not issued to him.
Salman Khan, son of Mehtab of Kohat Road, shared a similar story, saying he had been running after the Nadra officials for past two years, but he was not cleared so far. “Salman is my nephew and I myself have talked to the high-ups concerned, including secretary interior, but despite their assurance the CNIC was not issued to him till now,” said Maulana Abdul Jalil Jan, spokesman for Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The JUI-F leader said that his party’s Senator Maulana Attaur Rehman had also accompanied him to the secretary interior’s office and federal minister Akram Khan Durrani had also intervened, but the card was not issued to the 20-year-old student. He said that Salman’s class fellows were given laptops in the college, but he could not get it because he did not have the CNIC.
Jalil Jan said that Salman was refused to be issued it for only fault that he had exchanged hot words with an official of special branch while he was verifying the documents. He said that Salman had also produced about 70 years old school certificate of his grandfather to the police, but even then in official record he was shown as Afghan and was issued notice to leave Pakistan at the earliest or face action.
Nisar Mehmood, a journalist, while narrating his experience during renewal of one of his relatives CNIC said that several agencies had been involved in the verification process and thus a common, uneducated person was unable to access them. “One of the inquiry officials is sitting in police lines and an ordinary citizen can’t access him,” he said and added that it was duty of Nadra to pay serious attention to the issue because thousands of people were kept deprived of their legal rights.
Pakistan Muslim League-Q provincial president Intikhab Khan Chamkani also expressed serious concern over blockage of CNICs of thousands of citizens and blamed the federal government for making lives of people miserable. He said that the deteriorating law and order situation had caused serious problems for the people as they could not freely move.
“It is duty of the federal government to instruct Nadra for expediting the process of verification to get the people rid of the difficult situation as any person not having CNIC is considered foreigner which is very humiliating,” Mr Chamkani said.
Pakistan Peoples Party’s provincial secretary information Syed Ayub Shah said that some of the political parties were also said to be extending help to Afghan nationals in obtaining fake CNICs. He said that the government should expedite work on the verification to issue cards to the deserving people at the earliest.
Awami National Party leader Sardar Hussain Babak said that his party had already raised the issue in the National Assembly and Senate as it was wrong to block someone’s CNIC without confirmation. He said that millions of people had to leave their homes during the war on terror which did not mean that they were Afghans, but they were continuously teased on different pretexts.
“Nadra is bound to have complete data about any of the citizens to prove relationship of people. The government should stop discriminatory attitude with Pakhtuns and unblock their CNICs so that they could continue their business activities in and out of the country,” he said.
When contacted, a Nadra official at Hayatabad said that those having such complaints should fill in a form so that the case could be verified through secret agencies, saying that the process was slow, but the local officials had no fault in it. He said that usually those having a friend or relative in the government job were able to get their cases verified in minimum days. He said that hundreds of people were seen visiting Nadra offices with a hope to get their cards renewed, but could not succeed due to ‘doubt’ about their nationality.
Published in Dawn, April 3rd, 2016