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Date Posted: 07:08:13 01/23/05 Sun
Author: JAVED
Subject: OVERSEAS PAKISTANIS AND THEIR NEW NATIONAL IDENTITY CARDS - URDU V/S ENGLISH


OVERSEAS PAKISTANIS AND THEIR NEW
IDENTITY CARD – URDU V/s ENGLISH !!!
By Javed - 02 January 2004

A public spirited citizen Samee-Ul-Hassan Karachi (DAWN 29.12.2003) entitled “CNICs – a bottomless pit” has stated how national waste the National Registration Act of 1973 had been and keeping economic and other conditions of Pakistan this scheme in 1973 should not have been started. He rightly quotes how illegal Afghani had been all along obtaining NICs and passports. He further quotes how countries like India never introduced NICs scheme. Only two months back in UK British Foeign Affairs has raised objection to any proposal for any national identity card. Samee says how much money has been spent on computerisation etc for new Computerised NICs. 18 December in some Lahore urdu newspaper I read a column wherein columnist from that class who always praise every government move while praising NADRA extraordinarily inter alia alleged that thousands have got these Computerised NICs illegally. Samee also says in 1980 he addressed the Ministry of Interior raising his fears scheme would not be useful. The scheme though in my view good but it was started with ill designs. Where national identity cards are issued the first and the main steps then taken is creation of a central data which in our case in 1970s was not done. Somewhere in 1990s I myself drew the attention of Ministry of Interior directly and also through Federal Ombudsman showing importance of keeping centralised data and creatng simultaneously record of finger print data but no body appreciated me. Mr. Samee I am sure must be knowing creation of poorman’s bank, microwave bank, clean wather authroity, super cards etc in fact always are to create new seats for certain people and not for real purpose as is told to the nation. For example had it been real intent to help finance domestic type business and young people then instead creating new banks, new samll business complex etc more strength would had been given to already existing wonderful First Women Bank which did a real marvelous work in this field.

The government introduced a new separate national identity card for Overseas Pakistanis (OPs) on a high fee of US$ 25 per three year per each family member. Almost each and every circle connected with Overseas Pakistanis (OPs) concern over it. For example Ministry of Foreign Affairs in writing logged its protest with Ministry of Interior in as much as that Joint Secretary from Foreign Affairs went personally to the Ministry of the Interior to lodge this protest. This was introduced without consulting Pakistani Embassies and OPs circles like Pakistani Associations abroad etc. Only recently on 12.10.2003 a news item appeared that UK Ministry of Foreign Affairs has strongly opposed and resented to the idea of any national identity cards for its nationals.

When NADRA raised the idea of issuing Pakistan Origin Card (POC) for Pakistanis who have attained foreign nationality a very senior journalist titled his column “POC – a technique to earn money”. The rulers in the 1997 Overseas Pakistanis Convention held in Islamabad pronounced Overseas Pakistanis (OPs) whether holding having Pakistani or foreign nationality all are our brothers and Pakistan is their home open all times. If this is correct then why should a Pakistani need a POC on payment to enter into his own home?

The main reason for introducing this new National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis (NICOP) given was that present National Identity Card in Pakistan was in Urdu which foreign authorities where OPs work cannot read. This is an argument which has no logic or sense. Foreign identity cards are never required to be produced by any government department in Pakistan. Likewise Pakistani national identity card has never ever been required abroad by foreign departments abroad. The only document universally recognised for establishing one’s identity is his national passport. I have worked for about 18 years abroad. The country where I had been working has a similar Identity card system as that in Pakistan. During all these years neither in Pakistan any department/bank asked me for producing my foreign ID Card nor in my country of employment any Department, my employer there or a Bank (even Pakistani bank there) ever asked me to produce my Pakistani National Identity Card. They always asked to produce local ID Card. Pakistani ID Card was however required only in Pakistan Embassies at time of issuance or renewal of Passports, attestations work in our Embassies we all know staff invariably know Urdu.

Those who think POC for Pakistanis holding foreign nationality and separate NICOP for Pakistani nationals working abroad are just revenue generating brilliant ideas perhaps have some weight in their thinking if we see that according to a report published on 26/6/2003 now NADRA was planning to replace the traditional identity card with a new multi purpose card with bio-metric technology. Of course a new income.

The main salient reason given introducing separate card for Pakistanis working abroad was that foreign countries Administrations cannot read Urdu hence need for an English language card which foreign Administrations could read. How weak and empty this reason is can be judged from only one example that the Punjab Ombudsman of the same Government to which NADRA belongs addresses Overseas Pakistani complainants by writing foreign complainant’s address on the envelope in Urdu. Pakistani complainants from abroad write their foreign addresses in English so that on return host country postal administration could read it. But the Punjab Ombudsman while replying translates this English address into Urdu so foreign postal administration should know to read Urdu. This negates NADRA’s logic.

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