Nadra shelves Smart NICOP scheme for overseas Pakistanis
By: Murtaza Ali Shah
LONDON: The National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) has decided to scrap the Smart NICOP (National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis) scheme outsourcing scheme after facing overwhelming opposition from the British Pakistani communities, The News has reliably learnt.
A source within Nadra has told this correspondent that the scheme had become too controversial and it had become difficult to sell its products to overseas Pakistanis in European countries, especially in Britain, where public meetings have been held against the scheme. The decision to shelve the multi-million pounds scheme is internal so far, but the decision has been finalised, according to the source.
The source added: “There are many issues involved in the scheme. It’s too expensive, insecure and troublesome. It has been decided that we will not give it a go-ahead, and we are drafting a communication to convey to all the relevant stakeholders,” confided the source.
Tariq Malik, the Nadra Chairman, had ordered a review of the contract after seeing the opposition to the scheme when he was in London in July this year. Dr Farooq Sattar also told Nadra that he had been receiving negative feedback about the scheme, and he, too, opposed its implementation, said the source.
After returning from London where he had launched the scheme amid chaotic scenes, Tariq Malik formed a review committee and asked for recommendations and a thorough investigation into the scheme and how it was promoted at various levels to the overseas entities.
The decision has been welcomed by Tariq Dar, Chairman of Pakistan Community Centre Willesden Green, who led the campaign against the scheme in London.
International Identity Services (IIS) secured the contract earlier this year. When approached for comment, a spokesman at the IIS told The News that he was not aware about Nadra’s decision to drop the scheme, but he confirmed that Nadra has not been acting as a partner after initially putting the scheme on hold “in the name of the review”.
“Too much time has gone into the review of the scheme when it should have taken only a few days. We have spent over half a million pounds into creating the infrastructure, paying salaries and getting properties on rent in London and outside. We have been constantly asking Nadra to update us and every time we are told that ‘soon’ a decision will be made. If Nadra ends contracts with us then we will look for legal options. We are aware that another company in London was recently given visa outsourcing project within 3 months, no objections raised. In our case, we have felt being discriminated against and badly treated. IIS has worked to meet all the demands of Nadra without compromising data security and Nadra told us that it’s completely satisfied with our scheme and after that they signed contract with us.”