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ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi said on Monday that action would be taken against anyone caught with drugs regardless of their kinship.

When Mr Afridi was asked during a chat with reporters if Talal Nadir Afridi arrested in Attock on Dec 11 on charges of possessing drugs was his nephew, the minister said: “Whoever he is, action will be taken against him in accordance with the law.”

He said he had an extended family and his father had married thrice.

Talal was arrested along with three other young men on Dec 11 in Attock for possessing 507 grams of hashish.

Talal later told police that his current address was House 3 in the Ministers’ Enclave in Islamabad and that his father’s name was Farrukh Jamal Afridi.

Earlier, the minister also attended a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior. The committee expressed concern over delay in renewal of arms licences by the federal government.

Mr Afridi informed the committee that the Ministry of Interior had begun issuing computerised arms licences through Nadra in December 2010, while manual arms licences were computerised in October 2011.

After computerisation of arms licences the government decided to renew the licences through Nadra instead of the National Bank of Pakistan, but the decision was later declared void by the Lahore High Court and the Peshawar High Court and now the matter was pending before the Supreme Court.

The minister agreed that a hassle-free mechanism for renewal of arms licences must be devised.

The Senate panel also voiced concern over delay in issuing passports and NICOP to overseas Pakistanis. The chairman of the committee, Senator Rehman Malik, said that he had received numerous complaints from overseas Pakistanis that they were facing difficulties in getting their passports and NICOPs on time.

He said that the data of an applicant was uploaded in foreign countries while processing and printing of the passport took place in Pakistan. This, he stressed, caused considerable delay in issuance of passports causing serious inconvenience to overseas Pakistanis.

He advised the Ministry of Interior to look into the feasibility of getting passports printed in respective embassies so that both money and time of the applicant was saved.

The committee also discussed the issue of increase in the number of begging children at traffic signals, streets and markets of Islamabad and urged the government to implement a ban on child labour in letter and spirit.

Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2019