Security agencies are scrutinising thousands of suspected foreigners who have obtained Pakistani nationality allegedly through fake documentation.
The suspects are said to have illegally acquired computerised national identity cards CNICs) – the legitimate proof of citizenship – from the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).
In an ongoing campaign against unregistered foreigners living in the country, NADRA has cancelled over 25,000 CNICs and identified more than 75,000 more cards as doubtful, blocking them until clearance from the security agencies.
The CNIC is the core product NADRA issues to a legitimate citizen of Pakistan. The authority claims the card is a blend of state-of-the-art technology and well-defined business rules to guarantee its authenticity and validity. Under the law, every 18-year-old, genuine citizen of Pakistan is eligible for a CNIC.
A NADRA official told The Express Tribune that an internal vigilance department tasked to check all the suspicious CNICs had identified thousands of suspicious cards and their number was increasing.
He said a majority of the people whose CNICs had been cancelled were Afghans but people from Iraq, Sudan, Bangladesh had also acquired these identity cards.
During initial investigation, NADRA has found around 400 of its employees working in different areas across the country suspected to be involved in the scam of granting CNICs to foreigners, which carries serious repercussions for national security. “These officers are being questioned,” the NADRA official said.
NADRA has developed a passport issuing system for Kenya, a high-security’s licence for Bangladesh and a civil registration management system for Sudan among several other projects in the recent past.
NADRA Chairman Usman Mubeen recently said that around 70,000 CNICs had been identified as “suspicious”. The actual number has, however, crossed 100,000 in the past few weeks, with over 25,000 CNICs already proven to have been issued to foreigners.
Officials say the verification of doubtful cases has been assigned to joint verification committees (JVCs) constituted at sub-divisional level. In Punjab, Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces, the JVCs consist of representatives from Intelligence Bureau (IB), Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and special branch of police. In Balochistan, the committees comprise the area’s assistant commissioner and representatives from IB, ISI, Military Intelligence and police special branch.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 31st, 2015.
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