The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday suspended the National Database and Registration Authority's (Nadra) decision to cancel the citizenship of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leader Hafiz Hamdullah.
Hearing a petition filed by the former senator and minister, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah sought a reply from Nadra within two weeks and directed the authority as well as the interior ministry not to take any sort of action against Hamdullah.
On Sunday, it was reported that Nadra declared Hamdullah an 'alien' after finding that he had 'fraudulently obtained' his computerised national identity card (CNIC), which was subsequently cancelled.
While the government decision had been taken two weeks prior, it came to the limelight only days before the JUI-F’s so-called 'Azadi March' on Islamabad. A notification issued by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) barring TV channels from inviting Hamdullah to talk shows as a guest had referred to a Nadra letter dated Oct 11.
In his reaction, the JUI-F leader blamed state institutions of '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.
During court proceedings today, Hamdullah said Nadra had cancelled his CNIC and he had submitted a petition against the decision; however, no action had been taken on the application for a week. He said Nadra's decision should be declared void and the interior ministry should be stopped from taking any action.
Officials representing Nadra told the court that in December 2018, a letter was written to the JUI-F leader regarding his citizenship and a district-level committee had been formed. Following this, Hamdullah had appeared before the committee, which had asked him for his documentation.
According to Nadra, the documents presented by the JUI-F leader had turned out to be "bogus".
Justice Minallah asked if Hamdullah had any children and whether they had CNIC cards, to which his lawyer responded in the affirmative.
The counsel added that one of Hamdullah's sons was even in the army.
"Can you doubt the citizenship of the husband of a mother who sends her son to sacrifice himself for the country?" the IHC chief justice remarked.
After hearing initial arguments, the IHC decided to suspend Nadra's decision to cancel Hamdullah's citizenship.