ISLAMABAD: In a significant development, the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) has declared Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leader, ex-minister and former senator Hafiz Hamdullah an alien, alleging that he had ‘fraudulently obtained’ his computerised national identity card (CNIC) that has now been cancelled.
“He is a confirmed Afghan and had used fraudulent means to get Pakistan’s citizenship,” said a senior official while speaking to Dawn on Saturday. His case had been “under scrutiny for years” though the decision was taken on a confirmation report from “sensitive agencies” that he was an alien, the official added.
In his reaction, the JUI-F leader blamed state institutions for his ‘political victimisation’ and said no one in his family, including his father, had ever been accused of being an alien. He said his father was an employee of the education department in 1974 and he had already provided documents to Nadra to prove it.
While the government decision had been taken two weeks ago, it came to the limelight only days before the JUI-F’s Azadi march on Islamabad for which negotiations between the two sides had remained inconclusive till the late hours of Friday night.
A notification issued by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), barring TV channels from inviting him to talk shows as a guest, referred to a Nadra letter dated Oct 11.
Pemra bars news channels from inviting him to TV shows; JUI-F blames state institutions for ‘political victimisation’
The senior official said foreigners having Pakistani identity documents had been given two-month amnesty starting from July 1 to surrender their CNICs, with the warning that otherwise they would have to face 14-year imprisonment.
A drive for re-verification of CNICs had been launched across the country after a startling disclosure in 2016 that Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor had fraudulently acquired Pakistani nationality. During the campaign, thousands of dubious CNICs had been blocked.
Mullah Mansoor was killed in an attack on a taxi near Nushki district in Balochistan in May 2016. A Pakistani passport and a CNIC found near the charred wreckage of the taxi, targeted by a remotely-piloted American aircraft, identified him as Wali Mohammad. However, a DNA test later confirmed that the deceased was Mullah Mansoor who had acquired Pakistani CNIC under a fake name.
In a notification issued on Saturday, Pemra directed the TV channels not to air the former senator as he was not a citizen of Pakistan.
Interestingly, there is no law that stops any non-Pakistani from appearing on news or entertainment channels in the country.
The Pemra notification No 13(87)/OPS/2016 signed by G.M. (Operations Broadcast) referred to Nadra’s letter dated Oct 11 that former senator Hamdullah was not a Pakistani.
The notification stated: “Since it is established that the said person is an ‘alien’, therefore all TV channels (News & Current Affairs) are directed to refrain from inviting and projecting Mr Hafiz Hamdullah Saboor in their programmes/ talk shows, news etc.”
Hafiz Hamdullah became health minister of Balochistan in 2002 after being elected to the provincial assembly on a Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) ticket in the general election. He kept the portfolio till 2005.
Later in March 2012, as a JUI-F candidate he was elected to the upper house of parliament. His tenure as senator ended last year in March.
While talking to Dawn, a senior official of Pemra acknowledged that there was no such law that restricted non-Pakistanis from appearing on Pakistani channels in any news, current affairs or entertainment show, but declined to comment on the rationale behind issuance of the notification.
The JUI-F leader, however, held state institutions responsible for his ‘political victimisation’ and said no one in his family, including his wife and children, had ever been accused of being an alien. He said the entire case was nothing but political victimisation.
“I came to know that my ID card has been blocked in February or March this year and [when] I contacted the local Nadra office, they directed me to approach Nadra head office in Islamabad,” he recalled.
He said he had provided to Nadra several documents including his father’s chequebook issued by the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) in 1974. “I gave the municipality report related to my birth in Chaman, my father’s chequebook of the National Bank for the year 1974 as my father was an employee of the education department in 1974,” he explained, arguing, “What else should I present?”
He said that senior Nadra officials, including its chairman, informed him that the complaint had been lodged by the “intelligence establishment and the matter could get resolved only from there”.
“Now they want me to go to Kabul or Delhi — this is what Modi is doing with Muslims in Assam,” Hafiz Hamdullah said.
Published in Dawn, October 27th, 2019