Only 7 million people have CNICs in Karachi: Nadra -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Only 7 million people have CNICs in Karachi: Nadra

Zaib Azkaar Hussain

Karachi: The National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) claims to have issued computerised national identity cards (CNICs) to more than seven million people in Karachi, but independent observers estimate that 50 percent of the people are living without CNICs in the city.

Among old inhabitants of Karachi, the majority of foreigners who have settled in Karachi are living without coverage from Nadra on the grounds that another government department called Nara (National Aliens Registration Authority) is responsible to issue them with a card permitting them to stay in the city. However, the majority of these foreigners, including Afghans, Bengalis, Burmese (residents of Myanmar), remain unregistered. Besides, there are countless others hailing from other countries like India, Kenya, China, Ghana, Uganda, Jordan, Iran and Chechnya have also not been covered by Nadra and Nara.

Informed sources in Nadra say that before 1973 when the process of issuing identity cards started, the citizens were allowed to fill in a proforma and get their cards and later many law violators also got cards on this basis. The process of making computerised cards started in 2002, and a lot of issues cropped up from acquiring correct facts and to issuing cards to bona fide applicants. On the other hand, a large number of foreigners were given cards on the past bio data and it consumed much time to correct things.

Later, the government set up Nara to deal with aliens and foreigners. Hence, Nadra is only bound to issue cards to bona fide citizens and to those Pakistanis who enjoy citizenship of some other countries but originally they were called Pakistani citizens, the sources say, adding that such citizens are issued with a separate form dealing with overseas Pakistanis.

Due to the factor of expiry date, a large number of CNICs were due to be renewed, but people did not turn up and that added the record of failures on the part of Nadra, but the actual fault lies with people who should have renewed their CNICs, according to the sources.

By 2010, according to Nadra Deputy Chairman Tariq Malick, Nadra had registered 83.094 million citizens while the authority witnessed an unprecedented surge in registration for the year 2010 and as many as 12,253,967 citizens were registered – the highest number since Nadra’s inception and a healthy trend signifying awareness among the masses. The deputy chairman is of the view that during the past years Nadra initiated many measures to increase the registration of women. He says women registration centres in rural areas staffed with females and mobile registration vans to provide registration services at their doorsteps in far-flung areas have played a significant role in increasing their registration. The free issuance of identity cards to youths attaining the age of 18 years has also helped to boost registration. Nadra has issued a total of 20,846,698 free CNICs.

According to the sources in Nadra, there are around 32 swift centres issuing citizens their cards. Besides, five executive Nadra swift registration centres have also been set up and there is a plan to increase the numbers of such centres in the near future but still people hesitate to come to the centres due to one or another reason, they say.

The sources say that Nadra has a lot of plans and schemes to motivate people to get their cards. Yet, most of the residents of thickly populated areas of the city have not got their cards due to their inability to reach swift centres set up at a long distance from their residences.

Independent observers say that when it is difficult to issue CNICs in a big and developed city like Karachi, it would take too much time to issue cards in cities where the majority of the people are not literate.
Source: The News