WITH the National Database and Registration Authority expressing its inability to reg-ister, under the existing system, abandoned and orphaned children, the Supreme Court has now approached the Council of Islamic Ideology for a religious interpretation on the matter.
As pointed out by child rights activities, such children do not possess the Child Registration Certificates, more commonly known as B Forms, which function as identity cards for Pakistani minors and are normally applied for by parents. The lack of this document in turn makes it difficult for these children to obtain National Identity Cards – and hence passports – but an added complication is that the CNIC, as currently designed, requires a father’s name, which is often not known. A separate but related issue is that of adopted children; those who become their legal guardians are forced to lie to obtain these documents by claiming that they are the biological parents.
On the most fundamental level the lack of these documents denies these children a legal identity and amounts to a refusal by the state to acknowledge their existence as well as their citizenship. But as the use of B Forms and CNICs becomes increasingly ubiquitous, it also has a very real impact on the lives of those who cannot obtain them. These documents are now needed for obtaining everything from admission to public schools and matric degrees to jobs, bank accounts and cellphone SIM cards.
While it might make sense to consult experts on the status of these children from an Islamic perspective, one simple administrative fix could be to make an exception for orphaned and abandoned children by allowing a guardian’s name to serve as a substitute for the father’s name on the B Form and CNIC. Nadra has reportedly been looking into this option, but nothing has changed so far. There is a need to move on this faster, and to look into other possible remedies that could enable registration from an administrative and legal point of view without raising complicated ideological issues that could delay the process.