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Unblock ID cards, demand senators.

Byline: Riazul Haq

ISLAMABAD -- Senators have staunchly criticised the National Database Regulatory Authority (NADRA) for creating troubles for thousands of residents of Balochistan and tribal areas without issuing national identification card making them 'stateless citizens'.

'Consider them citizens of this country, for God's sake, at least give them the basic right to be the citizen of this country,' Senator Usman Khan Kakar said while chairing the Senate Standing Committee on Less Developed Areas held in Parliament on Thursday.

He along with Senator Azam Khan Musakhel who belongs to Quetta came down hard on the officials of NADRA and interior ministry for 'overlooking' the key demands of the Pashtuns living in different parts of the country.

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The committee meeting was held to discuss the performance of the ministry in the last five years in Balochistan and the erstwhile FATA. To the contrary it started without completion of the quorum that requires at least three senators including the chairperson.

Azam snubbed an additional secretary of the ministry about implementation of the National Action Plan and said it was a complete failure. 'Because the implementation was being carried out on the basis of likes and dislikes, and until this ends nothing will work,' he added.

The chairperson raised the issue of non-issuance of ID cards to Pashtuns of Balochistan residing in different areas of the country especially far-flung regions.

'Cards are blocked since long and there is no way out but even NADRA officials are helpless in this matter,' he stated in reply to a NADRA official who tried to clarify the position.

'I know where the actual power lies, so you are not to be blamed for it,' he said referring to military officials 'who hold sway over approval and disapproval of such cards'.

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Senator Azam begged the ministry and NADRA officials and said there were people who have no identity, cannot do job anywhere in the country just because they do not have the ID card.

'At least give them this right if you cannot equip them with livelihood,' he said adding at least they would not be stopped if they beg in public.

Senator Kakar said there are no women photographers in different areas of Balochistan hence, majority of women in the areas end up without any card as men are the ones who do such jobs.

'Most of the women in our areas are not registered voters because they do not have the card.'

He also said there was no facility of mobile vans that could help the people in far-flung areas.

He urged the NADRA officials to lift the bar on renewal of ID cards from the home cities as residents of Swat, Balochistan were doing jobs in Karachi and Southern Punjab but they cannot go and renew the card just because they were not permanent residents of that area.

'They are Pakistanis at least do not do this to them,' he said adding please do not issue cards to foreigners but at least to those who were living there for generations.

The committee later suspended discussion on the agenda of law enforcement agencies performance in the less developed areas owing to lack of quorum. Besides the ministry and NADRA also requested for time to get prepared for next briefing.

The committee also expressed concern over unnecessary blockade of over 300,000 Computerised National Identity Cards (CNIC) belonging to less developed areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

Senator Usman Kakar said National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) should take steps on priority basis to resolve that issue.

He said that 70 per cent population of the less developed areas lived below poverty line and without CNIC they were unable to travel to other parts of the country. Most of them were daily-wage workers.

Kakar also criticised previous governments for not introducing any scheme for the welfare of people of those areas.
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Publication:The Express Tribune (Karachi, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Aug 31, 2018
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