NADRA may be placed under Cabinet Division
By: Imran Mukhtar
ISLAMABAD: Foreseeing pre-poll rigging on the part of NADRA in the presence of powerful interior minister, the proposal to bring the authority under the administrative control of Election Commission or Cabinet Division is seriously being considered, TheNation has learnt reliably.
The National Database & Registration Authority (NADRA) has carried out ‘Electoral Rolls Project’ with close liaison of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). The authority is still involved in the updating and modifying of computerized electoral rolls.
A parliamentary committee on election issues headed by Leader of the House in the Senate Jehangir Badar and comprising members from both the Houses of the Parliament is also finalizing its recommendations to make the election process more fair and transparent. The committee is looking into a number of affairs including voter lists, code of conduct of Election Commission of Pakistan and law and order situation.
Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Ishaq Dar, in one of the committee’s meetings had proposed that as NADRA was involved in the sensitive matter of preparing electoral rolls, so it should be brought either under the administrative control of ECP or Cabinet Division to minimise the influence of Interior Ministry.
However, NADRA has a different point of view on the issue. A senior official of the authority wishing not to be named informed that NADRA had its own independent board of directors and it was not under the administrative control of Ministry of Interior at all. He said, however, all summaries of the authority were routed through the Ministry of Interior and routing everything through this ministry was the cause of delay in all NADRA matters.
Background discussions with some senior officials of the NADRA indicate that as the authority was carrying out a number of projects other than registration of citizens so it should be brought under the administrative control of Cabinet Division. “We are not only doing projects of Ministry of Interior but also a number of ethers and the ministry have not expertise on all these subjects,” the senior official said. In the past, NADRA had been carrying out projects like computerization of arms licenses, distribution of compensation money for flood as well as rain affected people of the country through Watan cards and Pakistan Cards. NADRA is undergoing projects including disbursement of pensions and Sindh Cards.
Another official of NADRA said that the government should follow the model of Unique Identification Authority of India, (UIDAI), whose chairperson enjoyed the status of a cabinet minister. He was of the view that the post of Chairman NADRA should be made a constitutional tenure post and its powers should be equal to the federal minister and he should directly report to the Prime Minister.
According to the official website of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), it had been created as an attached office under the Planning Commission. Its role is to develop and implement the necessary institutional, technical and legal infrastructure to issue unique identity numbers to Indian residents. In 2009, the Indian Cabinet also created and approved the position of the Chairperson of the UIDAI, and appointed Mr. Nandan Nilekani as the first Chairperson in the rank and status of a Cabinet Minister.