• Nadra chief tells Senate body illegal residents succeed in becoming part of native family trees by offering bribes
• PTA, FIA raid franchise selling SIMs to Afghans

ISLAMABAD: The newly appointed chairman of the National Database and Registration Authority on Wednesday told a Senate panel that some Nadra staff and external factors were involved in the issuance of fake CNICs to aliens.

“Additionally, illegal residents succeed in becoming part of native family trees by offering bribes to the family members,” Lt Gen Munir Afsar said during his maiden appearance before the Senate Standing Committee on Interior.

The committee meeting chaired by Senator Mohsin Aziz was attended by caretaker Minister for Interior Sarfraz Bugti, Interior Secretary Aftab Akbar Durrani, Special Interior Secretary Nadeem Mehboob, DG Passport and Immigration Mustafa Jamal Kazi, Additional Director General of Pakistan Coastal Guard, Senators Saifullah Abro, Faisal Saleem Rehman, Shahadat Awan, Faisal Ali Subzwari, Fawzia Arshad, Dilawar Khan, Danesh Kumar, Dost Muhammad Khan, Bahramand Khan Tangi, Sherry Rehman and Kamil Ali Agha.

The Nadra chief said action has been taken against Nadra employees and around 84 officials have been suspended for their involvement in illegal activity. “However, employees escape punishment due to the absence of a law dealing with privacy of data,” he added.

He said analysis of processing revealed that non-nationals usually try to intrude into Pakistani families by preparing documents using credentials of Pakistani families, biometric verification of a CNIC holder belonging to genuine Pakistani family, using old manual identity cards issued prior to the establishment of Nadra, using identity cards of deceased persons issued prior to 2004 whose biometrics data is not available in database, using CNICs of women who got their ID cards without picture before 2012, patronage of notables and facilitation by locals.

Mr Afsar told the Senate committee that in order to issue CNICs to genuine citizens only and stop intrusion of non-nationals into the Pakistani families, Nadra was continuously improving the process of verification.

While discussing the problems faced by the Mehsud tribesmen in acquiring passports in Karachi, DG Passport and Immigration Mustafa Jamal Kazi said no discrimination is shown to any individual.

However, he added, the process got delayed because the people belonging to the Mehsud tribe are obtaining their passports in Karachi, whereas rules state that every citizen should acquire their first passport in their respective district.

The additional director general of Pakistan Coast Guards (PCG) told the Senate body that despite budgetary constraints, the organisation had succeeded in seizing 19.25 tonnes of narcotics in last one year and stopped 2,555 migrants, including Pakistanis, Afghans, Iranians and Nigerians, from crossing the coastal area illegally.

Illegal SIMs

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Telecommuni­cation Authority (PTA) and Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) Cybercrime Circle jointly raided a franchise illegally selling activated SIMs to Afghan nationals for up to Rs3,000 per SIM.

A statement issued by the PTA said the franchise operated by an Afghan national on Kohat Road in Peshawar was involved in illegally issuing SIMs against Afghan passports. The PTA had filed a complaint with the FIA earlier based on information about sale of illegal SIMs.

During the raid, five laptops and eight mobile phones containing scanned passport data were seized. The raiding teams arrested five individuals at the scene and the FIA was investigating the matter, the statement added.

Published in Dawn, October 12th, 2023

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