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UN High Commission for Refugees had set $400 for each Afghan refugee returning to their homeland under a voluntary repatriation scheme. — File photo

10,000 Pakistanis who registered as Afghan refugees detected

ISLAMABAD: The National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) has tracked over 10,000 Pakistanis who have registered themselves as Afghan refugees for dollars, as the UN High Commission for Refugees had set $400 for each Afghan refugee returning to their homeland under a voluntary repatriation scheme. 

This was disclosed by Nadra chairman Usman Yusuf Mobeen while giving a briefing on blocked Computerised National Identity Cards (CNICs) at a meeting of the Senate’s standing committee on interior, which was presided over by the committee’s chairman Senator Rehman Malik. 

Mr Mobeen said the cases of fake identities were caught by the Nadra system when they came to obtain CNICs, as their cards had been blocked. He explained that CNICs were blocked in five different categories of suspicious cases. 

Revelation made in briefing given by Nadra chief to Senate panel

While briefing the Senate committee, the Nadra chairman said around one million Afghan refugees had been repatriated to Afghanistan under the voluntary repatriation scheme. Each refugee ready to return home was to be given an assistance package of 400 dollars by the UN High Commission for Refugees. Even for their newborn, the UN provided assistance that was increased during different times and stood at the rate of $400 per individual at present.

The issue of Nadra’s refusal to issue CNICs to Pakhtuns living in Balochistan had been raised by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Senator Yaqoob Khan Nasar in the Senate on a point of public importance.

“There were 2.4 million registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan at one time,” Mr Mubeen said, adding that 1.5 million unregistered Afghan refugees were also living in the country. He said that many of those Afghan nationals got fake CNICs posing themselves to be part of the family trees of Pakistani nationals in connivance with some government officials. Even those Pakistanis were suspected cases whose family trees were used to issue these fake CNICs, the chairman said. However, he added, there were some Pakistani nationals who voluntarily allowed them to become part of their family.

He said the authority had found 156,000 suspected cases during a national verification drive. He explained said that a parliamentary committee during the last PML-N government had devised a mechanism to verify the documents of those people whose identities as Pakistanis were doubtful. In the light of the recommendations of that committee, the government issued a notification that deputy commissioner of every district would head a verification committee to decide such cases. He said the parliamentary committee had decided that every applicant in question would have to produce at least one of the seven identity documents before their respective district committee to prove their nationality.

Even Abdol Malek Rigi, former head of an Iran-based terrorist group and his family, had succeeded to get Pakistani CNICs by intruding into the family trees, the chairman of the Senate standing committee observed. 

Senator Malik said: “Nadra should have clarity between the Afghan refugees and Pakistanis.” He said the seven documents’ requirement to give proof of nationality should be reviewed to make the verification procedure easy but effective. He said laws could be amended to ease the process of registration for the people who were not literate.

Resolution

Meanwhile, the Senate committee through a unanimously adopted resolution decried and rejected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s anti-Pakistan tweets.

The resolution moved by Senator Malik said Mr Ghani’s statement was “factually baseless and a gross interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan”. The committee called upon the government to register a serious protest with Afghanistan and demand that President Ghani “withdraw his statement immediately and tender an apology”.

Mr Malik said Pakistan was facing serious security threats, as terrorist groups were being sponsored and activated from across the border.

1,200 pilgrims stranded

The Senate committee chairman informed the meeting about the issue of lack of security due to which hundreds of Pakistani pilgrims returning from Iran and Iraq were stranded at Taftan, Pak-Iran border.

“I have been informed that around 1,200 pilgrims were stranded for the last two weeks in Balochistan due to lack of security needed to escort their buses to Quetta,” he said. 

Senator Malik said that IG FC Balochistan South Region Major General Saeed Ahmed Nagra and an FIA director had assured him of their complete cooperation in ensuring safe travel of the stranded pilgrims. He directed the federal and provincial authorities to make immediate arrangements for rescue of pilgrims and submit a detailed report on it. 

He noted that no structural monitoring or standing operating procedure was being followed for the pilgrims’ travel and safety. 

The meeting directed that the ministry of religious affairs, the interior ministry, the Balochistan government and other relevant authorities to formulate and finalise some facilitation plan on the pattern of Haj pilgrims for the zaireen as well.

Published in Dawn, February 9th, 2019

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