Stories about NADRA

This is what I saw in Bannu

Recently I had the opportunity to visit Bannu district, where the majority of the 500,000 plus Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), primarily from Mir Ali and Miranshah in North Waziristan Agency, have moved to escape the military operation called Zarb-e-Azb (apparently) against the terrorists who continue to threaten the people of Pakistan. This is not the first displaced population I have seen or engaged with close up, but the feeling of being overwhelmed never fails to leave. As one enters the garrison town of Bannu, visibly under the control of and closely monitored by the military, roadblocks line all entrances of the town ...

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We’re twins, not aliens!

Being a twin has not been easy for me, especially living in Pakistan. We’ve been stopped at restaurants, airports and even in the middle of the road by well-intentioned but annoying strangers. Some would ask us if we were twins (as if it wasn’t obvious) and would marvel at our likeness when we confirmed it while others preferred to waste our time by playing ‘spot-the-difference’ and bombarding us with irrational, overly-personal and clichéd questions. At the passport and driving licence offices, our National Identity Cards (NIC) have even been locked repeatedly because the computer detected one of us as a ‘suspect ...

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Rich people, doing rich things in poor Pakistan

It has been 65 years since Pakistan’s independence. During this period, Pakistan has seen a lot of transition. From Ayub Khan’s industrialisation to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s socialisation, to Ziaul Haq’s Islamisation to Musharraf’s enlightened moderation and war on terror, we have had our fair share of ideologies and doctrines. Being a 22-year-old, average Pakistani guy who hasn’t seen most of these periodic transitions, I can naively (and safely) assume one similarity between all of them – the class divide in our society has remained unchanged throughout these six and a half decades. Every now and then I come across drawing room discussions where people, ...

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To survive at NADRA you must (not) obey the law?

NICOP and Smart NICOP facilities were started by NADRA in an attempt to assist overseas Pakistanis who send a considerable amount of their income to Pakistan and invest in the country despite the deplorable situation here. Here is the sad story of my pursuit to get this card.  My first attempt:  On October 20, 2013, I made my first attempt to acquire the Nicop. For that, I went to the Nadra office at Deans Trade Centre in Peshawar. After having spent two hours waiting in the queue at the token counter, I was told by the officer that the Nadra Dean Centre office did not accommodate applications for the ...

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Voting inaccuracies in NA 256 and NA 258: We need a better system!

The May 11, 2013 elections were historic for Pakistan. The eyes of the world as well as the hopes of the country were pinned on them. These elections deserved the full attention of officials who were responsible for their execution. However, the fact that inaccurate software was used is inexcusable. All software used to decide the fate of a country should be state-of–the-art and the best possible available, not technology that has been discarded as being inaccurate, for what is the point of even having elections if the date is not correct? On October 7, 2013, the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) ...

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My experience at the not-so-swift NADRA offices

“What’s so special about this special Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC)?” I asked. The man wearing the volunteer card replied, “It will give you small privileges over the rest of the people.” “Such as?” I asked, curious. “You won’t have to wait in any long lines, for instance, and all of your work will be done on fast track.” Having visited a National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) office once before, I had learned not to trust any claim of this agency. But this was not any Nadra office — it was a camp organised by an NGO at a local university in Karachi for ...

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The passport scam is a sorry start to the London Olympics

Just like any thriller, the sequence of events surrounding the Olympics visa scam, leaves one completely dazed. First came the not-so-shocking revelation that one can get a fake Pakistani passport and if you can dole out more money, even a spot in the Olympic squad, as the British tabloid, The Sun recently insinuated. Countless counter-allegations and some multiple arrests later, National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) has now come out saying that the whole scam episode is in itself a scam altogether. However, there are still many unanswered questions hanging in the air. Some quarters immediately started saying that this was ...

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Celebrating Mother’s Day as a rejected son

As a rejected son, how do you celebrate Mother’s Day? Who enjoys the breakfast tray? Who receives the flower bouquet? That’s my story. But it’s not my biological mother who rejected me. It’s my motherland – Pakistan. So on this Mother’s Day, let me have a heart to heart talk with you – my motherland. You don’t want to accept my love; that’s your choice. I have learned to deal with that. But please answer my questions, for I have lots of them. Why did you abandon me? Why did you institutionalise hatred against me in schools, workplaces and houses of God? ...

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Why won’t NADRA recognise the Kalasha?

Did you know that there is a pre-historic animist religion called Kalasha –  a religion still practised and cherished by the Kalasha people of the Hindu Kush valley? Are you also aware that the Kalasha people don’t even have an option to choose their religion in the ‘religion box’ endorsed by the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA)? Nadra came under scrutiny when it refused to rectify typographical errors it had made of a Christian MPA Rana Mahmood that identified him as a Muslim on his national identity card. The issue drew a considerable amount of attention from both the media and human rights activists, who criticised Nadra ...

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How Pakistan got boxed into religion

The National Database and Registration Authority’s (NADRA) refusal to change MPA Rana Mahmood’s religion from “Islam” to “Christianity” has many boxed in. A plethora of questions have arisen. Is this a human rights violation? Will Mahmood be considered an apostate if his records were to reflect that he left Islam? How can you change someone’s faith with a stroke of a pen? But no one is talking about the real question: Why do we have a “religion box” on our legal documents anyway? Say that and you essentially open Pandora’s Box. After all, in a 97% Muslim majority country, what good can ...

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