To begin with SC should consider that NADRA itself is responsible being the main culprit; an inept good for nothing organization that failed miserably since its inception and fell for perks/rewards from our corrupt politicians. Result is a missing voters list.
Khalid Hassan has pointed this out since long in his article:
When NADRA was established, the first thing that struck everybody was its name, the second example after NAB of the government having picked up a rather unfortunate set of acronyms. NAB has lived up to its name by nabbing those on the establishment’s hit list, rather than bringing to justice the fat cats who have been on the rampage in the Pakistani hencoop. As for NADRA, it is a name more appropriate to an abducted woman from the town of Pir Mahal in Faisalabad or a hoodlum in the back streets of the old city of Lahore than an agency assigned with the task of setting up a national database.
I do not know who the head honcho is but like most head honchos under this government, it must be a gentleman in uniform or one who was in uniform until recently. Whoever he is, he should know that something is very seriously the matter with his empire. Several of its computers are absent without leave. For instance, if you go to the NADRA website and click the link ‘Apply Online for NICOP/POC,’ the message thrown back at you says: ‘Apply Online Section is down for maintenance. Please visit later.” “Please visit later” is like being told by a person who owes you money, “The cheque is in the mail.”
Some years ago, it was announced that Pakistanis settled abroad, who had taken foreign citizenship, could apply for a Pakistan Origin Card by filling in a form and submitting it with $100 to the nearest Pakistani embassy, which would pass on the application to NADRA (not Lady Naipaul, I clarify), and a POC card — good for seven years — would follow. Great idea but is it working?
The experience of one Pakistani lady, whom I will only identify as Ms BJS, is illustrative of what happens to some who apply for a Pakistan Origin Card (POC). The applicant is assured that all that is required of him or her to establish a claim is “at least one proof of Pakistani origin”, no more. The form itself requires only those applicants furnishing information about a “living Pakistani relative” who are claiming Pakistan origin “only on relationship basis”.
Ms BJS, who was born inside Texali Gate, Lahore, and who has lived in the United States for the last 30 years, applied for a Pakistan Origin Card in December 2005. She fulfilled all requirements, including furnishing “at least one proof of Pakistani origin”, which she did in the form of a copy of her Pakistan passport. After several months, when she inquired when her POC would be issued, she was told informally — but not in writing — by the Pakistan embassy in Washington, where she had made the application, that her papers had been found “incomplete” by NADRA.
After some running around, she found that the “Facilitation Cell, SRC Directorate (NICOP Dept), NADRA headquarters, Islamabad” had objected that Ms BJS had not provided her NIC (National Identity Card) number. There is no such requirement laid down in the application form, and in any case, Ms BJS could not have provided an NIC number for the simple reason that she had never had an NIC. So this is the sort of shoddy work that NADRA is doing. Ms BJS is a graduate of the Punjab University and she took her MA from the University of Dhaka, studying under such teachers as Andleeb Shadani and Hanif Fauq. Her brothers and other members of her family, including her children, are all settled in the United States. She was asked to “send a copy of NIC herself (if held) along with Number of copy of CNIC/NIC of Father/Mother/Blood Relative so that her case may processed (sic) on priority (sic).” There is absolutely no such requirement listed on the application form, so may one ask NADRA: What on earth’s goin’ on?
My own inquires have shown that NADRA’s work, at least in its dealings with overseas Pakistanis, is poorly supervised. Mistakes in PIC or NICOP cards issued are rampant. Names are misspelt and dates got wrong. It is not uncommon to be issued a card, which shows American cities as being located in the United Kingdom and British cities as being located in the United States. The sort of objection which was placed on Ms BJS’s application is common. This is a crying shame and although I have no illusions that anything printed in the press changes anything in Pakistan, one writes about such things out of habit.
I have serious objections to the POC form devised by NADRA’s geniuses on several grounds. First of course is the column on religion and the Zia ul Haq-ordained declaration about who is a Muslim and who is not, a matter which lies in Allah’s domain alone. Column 22 states, “In case of a State Subject of Jammu and Kashmir (please shade the applicable box) AJK, Migrant from Kashmir Valley, Migrant from Jammu and others.” This is horrendous. It has been Pakistan’s position from day one, both at the United Nations and everywhere else that the former State of Jammu and Kashmir is a single indivisible entity whose future remains to be decided in accordance with the wishes of the people of that State and in accordance with UN resolutions. Why has NADRA divided the State of Jammu and Kashmir into three parts and, with that, its people, the Kashmiris? I, for example, am a State Subject, having been born in Srinagar, but belonging to Jammu, and I consider myself and am considered by the Government of Pakistan as a person originating from the State of Jammu and Kashmir, which the United Nation has declared to be a disputed territory. Does the breakdown of the people of Jammu and Kashmir in three different segments indicate a change of policy on the part of the present Government of Pakistan? An immediate clarification is essential and the present NOC and similar forms have to be withdrawn immediately and rewritten. Period.
And, yes, another ridiculous question asked of the applicant is: “Has any of your parents/grandparents ever been a citizen/national of India or Israel?” Before 1947, everyone was a citizen of India, so what is this question meant to find out? Sixty years after independence, is this an attempt to differentiate between those who were or whose parents came to Pakistan as refugees? If Gen Pervez Musharraf was asked this question, he would turn out to have been an Indian citizen at birth and would probably be denied a POC, were he at some point to apply for one, not that he is going to.
What I find shocking is that this form, with its politically dangerous and highly improper implications, was approved by the government. Question: Who approved it and on what basis? Meanwhile, Ms BJS’s Pakistan Origin Card should be issued immediately. For reference, her application No is 840E2343, dated December 7, 2005, Receipt No 000027344, forwarded by the Embassy of Pakistan, Washington.
Khalid Hasan is Daily Times’ US-based correspondent
This entry was posted on Sunday, June 25th, 2006 at 3:03 pm.