ISLAMABAD: Hours after the Interior Ministry claimed that union councils across the country would soon start issuing and renewing computerised national identity cards (CNICs), the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) said there were no plans to introduce the facility at the UC level.

The confusion stemmed from a meeting, chaired by Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi, at Nadra Headquarters on Friday. According to the official handout from the ministry, several significant decisions were made to facilitate the public, “including the provision of identity card issuance and renewal facilities at the union council level across Pakistan”.

Additionally, the statement said, biometric machines would be installed at the UC-level nationwide.

According to the Associated Press of Pakistan, Mr Naqvi directed that a plan be devised within a few days to finalise the issuance and renewal of identity cards at the UC level.

But just hours later, in a one-line clarification, Nadra clarified that there were no plans to introduce new ID card facilities at UC offices.

When pressed to explain the confusion, a Nadra official told Dawn that the minister had expressed a desire for provision of facility for issuance of CNICs at the UC level, but no such commitment was made by the authority.

The official said it was not possible to provide the facility in the around 8,000 UCs across the country.

Asked how the already over-burdened UCs perform the job of CNIC issuance or renewal, the official said the minister expected Nadra to provide human resources for that purpose as well.

The official said implementation of this idea would require massive financial resources, involving the procurement of hardware, linking them with the system and hiring and training manpower.

The Nadra official said that CNIC renewal facility could be introduced at the UC-level in a phased manner, starting from some selected union councils.

At the moment, Nadra operates offices in most (if not all) districts and is responsible for, among other things, issuance and renewal of identity documents as well as other material, such as family registration certificates etc. Earlier this year, Mr Naqvi had ordered that no fees should be charged for the issuance of death certificates by Nadra.

Dawn reached out to the interior minister for clarification on the issue, but he was not immediately available for comment.

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2024

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