I RECENTLY visited an office of the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) in connection with a CNIC renewal, and found it surprising that Nadra is now using black and white photographs on its CNIC smart cards even though the photographs, when they are taken, happen to be in colour. In the pre-smart phase, the CNICs used to feature colour photographs even though the old CNICs did not have advanced features that the smart cards have. I asked around, but no Nadra official at the centre could give me a single reason behind the decision.
One really fails to make sense of the decision. After all, a person is more recognisable in a colour photograph, and the whole reason behind CNICs is personal identification. Even driving licences and identity cards issued by companies and academic institutions carry colour photographs of the individual concerned.
Nadra says its smart cards are compatible with international standards having advanced features, but when one presents the CNIC at places like, say, visa counters at embassies, the black and white photos on the cards do not convey a very ‘international’ image.
The ministry concerned should ask Nadra to stop the practice immediately and to revert to the previous arrangement. All the smart cards issued with black and white photographs must immediately be replaced free of cost.
Also, the current charges of Rs2,500 for issuing a CNIC must be brought down to Rs1,000 to help the poor acquire what they must in order to be functional in society.
Shakil Ahmed Bokhari
Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2021