PESHAWAR: Peshawar High Court has provided major relief to Afghan spouses of Pakistani citizens, seeking grant of Pakistan Origin Card (POC) by declaring the requirement of foreign passport and Pakistan’s visa to them as harsh and illegal.

A bench consisting of Justice Syed Arshad Ali and Justice Wiqar Ahmad ruled that the requirement of valid passport of a foreign country and visa for getting a POC was not mandatory under Nadra (POC) Rules, 2002.

The bench ruled that requirement of possessing a passport of foreign country along with valid visa of Pakistan was not harsh in rest of the cases but as far as Afghan refugees were concerned, it was found harsher for the reason of their extraordinary long stay in Pakistan, in most of the cases.

The bench gave its findings in a 33-page detailed judgment delivered in 109 petitions wherein the court had partially allowed pleas of petitioners seeking POC for Afghan spouses of Pakistani nationals.

Declares condition of passport and visa illegal

“All these writ petitions are partially allowed to the effect that requirement of valid passport with valid visa shall not be considered mandatory in case one of the spouses is Pakistani and another claims to be a foreigner,” it said.

The bench, however, declared that that Nadra authorities would be fully competent to ask for further proofs and details and after satisfying themselves regarding the fact that the person fulfilled mandatory eligibility requirements of Rule 4 of POC Rules, and that he or she was actually an Afghan citizen, having security clearance, the POC should be issued otherwise the request should be rejected.

The bench directed that cases of all the petitioners should be considered by Nadra and appropriate orders in all those cases should be made and conveyed to the relevant applicants after affording them opportunity of hearings.

About plea of several of the petitioners regarding issuance of Form “B” to their children, the bench ordered: “It is therefore directed through this judgment again that in all the cases where one of spouses is Pakistani citizen, his or her offspring shall be registered without creating any hindrance.”

About the condition of security clearance for provision of POC, the bench ruled: “So far as requirement of security clearance is concerned, there is nothing wrong with it. Such a security clearance is not only need of the day but power of the authority to call for such a security is also available in Rule 13 of POC Rules, beside Rule 9 and Rule 7 thereof.”

The bench directed the chairman and director general of Nadra to issue fresh instructions to all the registration centres in compliance of the judgment.

The bench is of the opinion that the condition of requiring valid passport with valid visa of foreign country from foreigners, who happen to have been living in Pakistan for decades along with their family members, raising family members and integrating in this society, is found to be harsh, arbitrary, illogical and unreasonable.

“Same may no doubt be asked for and received but it should not be made a mandatory condition so as to declare non-holder of such a passport with visa to be ineligible for applying for POC,” the bench ruled. It added that no such eligibility condition was available under the rules and Nadra on the dent of its own instructions would not be able to place such a mandatory stringent condition.

Advocates Saifullah Muhib Kakakhel and Nouman Muhib Kakakhel represented majority of the petitioners and stated that Nadra Ordinance read with Nadra (POC) Rules, 2002, provided for grant of POC to spouses of Pakistani citizens.

“Protection of family has not only been considered important by framers of Constitution while encapsulating it in the chapter principles of policy but same is also basic unit of a society whereupon the building of Islamic society is built,” the bench observed.

“Every husband has a right to the company of his wife and every wife has a right to the company of her husband and so is the case with children. All the family members have duties towards others and corresponding rights and in no system of administration of justice it can be denied that a family may be allowed to be segregated just because one spouse happens to be a foreign national,” the bench ruled.

The bench also quoted different articles from Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Convention on Civil and Political Rights.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2023

Opinion

Editorial

Price bombs
17 Jun, 2024

Price bombs

THERE was a time not too long ago when the faces we see sitting in government today would cry themselves hoarse over...
Palestine’s plight
Updated 17 Jun, 2024

Palestine’s plight

While the faithful across the world are celebrating with their families, thousands of Palestinian children have either been orphaned, or themselves been killed by the Israeli aggressors.
Profiting off denied visas
17 Jun, 2024

Profiting off denied visas

IT is no secret that visa applications to the UK and Schengen countries come at a high cost. But recent published...
After the deluge
Updated 16 Jun, 2024

After the deluge

There was a lack of mental fortitude in the loss against India while against US, the team lost all control and displayed a lack of cohesion and synergy.
Fugue state
16 Jun, 2024

Fugue state

WITH its founder in jail these days, it seems nearly impossible to figure out what the PTI actually wants. On one...
Sindh budget
16 Jun, 2024

Sindh budget

SINDH’S Rs3.06tr budget for the upcoming financial year is a combination of populist interventions, attempts to...