Slow verification of blocked CNICs irritates people

July 28, 2017

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People protest outside the Nadra office at Abdara Road, Peshawar, on Thursday. — White Star
People protest outside the Nadra office at Abdara Road, Peshawar, on Thursday. — White Star

PESHAWAR: Hundreds of people, whose Computerised National Identity Cards (CNIC) were blocked on suspicion, have been rattled by slow verification process of their documents at the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) centres in Peshawar.

Dripping with sweat, the affected people of all ages including women and children have to wait in the humid weather outside Nadra centre in the posh University Town’s Abdara Road to prove that they are bona fide citizens and not aliens.

Nadra has setup centres at University Town, Hayatabad Phase-III Chowk and office of the deputy commissioner, where temporarily unblocked identity cards are processed.

People daily reach these centres before dawn, but only few ‘lucky’ of them get the chance to enter the centre for verification of their document. The rest of them go back to their homes after 4pm without processing their cases.

Official says only 40 cases processed at each centre daily

The situation at all three verification centres is terrible. There are no proper arrangements for drinking water, shed or washroom facility at these centres. People have to sit on the footpath or to stand in sizzling heat for hours. Jostling starts when the gatekeeper loudly calls an individual for verification.

“I have been visiting Nadra centre for the last 10 days, but I am unable to enter the office to clear my case,” said Zameen Gul. Like others, his card was unblocked temporarily in April 2017 on the directives of Federal Minister Interior Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. Mr Gul’s CNIC was blocked three years ago.

Usman Ghani, 55, another affected person, lamented the “rough attitude” of the police guards and Nadra staff. He said that people having recommendation letters from the influential persons were allowed to enter the centre.

“People with Perchi (chit) are getting positive treatment and the poor have to visit again and again,” complained Mr Ghani. He alleged that police manhandled helpless people.

Nadra had blocked over 300,000 CNICs across the country of which 160,000 cases belong to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).

The authority had blocked “bogus” CNICs on suspicion that foreigners, majority of them Afghan nationals, had obtained the citizenship cards.

The temporary relaxation was given to the affected people after alleged ethnic profiling of Pakhtuns in Punjab followed by protest movement of Awami National Party. The ANP lawmakers set up protest camp outside Parliament House to press the government for unblocking the CNICs of the affected people.

An official told Dawn that as per the headquarters’ directives only 40 cases were processed at each centre in Peshawar on daily basis while over 400 people visited each office.

He admitted that slow verification process of blocked cards irritated people. He said that verification of documents was a lengthy process and the headquarters should strengthen the staff to expedite it.

“The authority may not be able to complete verification of blocked CNICs keeping in view the slow process,” the official said.

Officials said that suspected CNICs were unblocked only for two months. The relaxation has been extended for indefinite period. The authority informed the affected people to visit verification centres to clear their blocked cards.

Nadra Staff Officer Yaseer said that additional centre was opened in University Town due to increasing rush in Hayatabad. He claimed that facilities had been provided to the people visiting those centres.

“Nadra staff is facilitating visitors and every facility is available there,” he said. He said that verification centres had been set up in all district headquarters in the province and adjacent tribal agencies. In addition, the deputy commissioners concerned and political agents had been empowered to process the blocked CNICs.

Published in Dawn, July 28th, 2017