ISLAMABAD: Saying Indian spy agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) has tasked a UK-based Kashmiri politician to ‘sabotage’ the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) recommended to the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) to block his national identity card.

The revelation was made during the hearing of a petition in Islamabad High Court (IHC), seeking the renewal of the National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis (Nicop) to Dr Shabbir Choudhry, a British national of Pakistani/Kashmiri origin.

In the petition, Mr Choudhry’s counsel Nisar Shah said his client, a Kashmiri politician, human rights activist and author of many books, was “not provided with Nicop due to his political work and writings which expose Pakistan’s Kashmir policy.”

ISI’s letter submitted to the court by the Nadra counsel stated that Mr Choudhry “is involved in anti-Pakistan activities sponsored by RAW.”

Intelligence agency recommended Nadra block UK-based Dr Shabbir Choudhry’s Nicop for his anti-Pakistan activities, allegedly sponsored by RAW

To support the allegation, the spy agency said, “Dr Choudhry authored 27 books/booklets on various aspects of Kashmir, most of which are sponsored by RAW. Recently, two of his books: ‘Why Arif Shahid was killed’ and Extremism, Terrorism and Threat to Peace in South Asia’ containing propaganda against ISI/Pakistan Army have been recovered and confiscated in AJK.”

The letter added: “He has been tasked by RAW for regular visits to Pakistan to expand his anti-Pakistan network and disseminate subversive material. He has established an organisation with the name of “Friends of Kashmir.”

It said RAW officials had tasked Mr Choudhry to increase his efforts for activating the people of Gilgit-Baltistan to rise against CPEC portraying it as damaging for the local population.

Advocate Shah, on the other hand, told the court that Mr Choudhry, a citizen of Azad Jammu Kashmir, applied for the renewal of his Nicop in June 2015 at the Pakistani High Commission in London but got no response.

He said normally the card was issued within six weeks as happened in the case of Mr Choudhry’s wife.

Mr Shah asserted that the basic fundamental rights of the petitioner were being violated and abrogated by the respondent, adding the petitioner was entitled to be issued the NICOP.

Justice Athar Minallah of the IHC directed Nadra to submit a detailed report explaining under which provisions of the law, apart from a report of the intelligence agency, the identity card of the UK-based Kashmiri politician had not been renewed.

In October, Nadra through its counsel Junaid Jafar had replied that Mr Choudhry did not come to the court with clean hands and his NICOP was blocked because “the petitioner has been reported by ISI to be involved in anti-state and subversive activities.”

Being a citizen of Pakistan, the petitioner did not fulfil the basic obligation to be loyal to the state under Article 5 of the Constitution, the reply read, adding for this reason he was not entitled to claim the renewal of NICOP.

Besides, Nadra said, the petition was not maintainable and liable to be dismissed as the documents pertaining to the appointment of his lawful attorney were not verified by Pakistan’s foreign mission in UK as well as the Foreign Office.

Rights activists, however, said a citizen cannot be denied the right to get an identity card on mere allegations.

Renowned rights activist I. A. Rehman told Dawn that nobody should be denied the renewal or issuance of an identity card on the basis of the report of an intelligence agency.

“Mere allegations or a report of any department or agency is not sufficient to justify denial of the identity card to a citizen,” he said, adding it was the courts to make a decision in this regard.

Published in Dawn, November 8th, 2016