My experience at the not-so-swift NADRA offices

Published: March 3, 2013

My determined father took many laps of the labyrinth of offices but failed to find anybody who would help him.

“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 the registration of the disabled.

Although it was a nice settlement in one of the lawns of the university, it had the rush you would find in any NADRA office, and sitting on a wheelchair I was observing the activity in my surroundings with my father at my side.

My father went to take the token number – a number which, when called, would mean it’s our turn to go ahead for the rest of the procedure. However, that call never came. Repulsed, my father asked a volunteer what to do, who led us to the next step which was filling a form for the disability certificate.

After I had filled and submitted the form with all the necessary documents attached to it, it was time for us to go and receive my handwritten (that is, with 100 percent chances of error) disability certificate.

The “learned” man – probably a graded officer – behind the desk asked my father the details of my disability and handed me the certificate a few minutes after. It was when I was going for the photographs that I ran an eye over my disability certificate and found that the man had indeed, as anticipated, made an error.

If any handwritten certificate-maker is reading this, then news flash: every person who is physically disabled does not necessarily have to be mentally challenged also. Keep this in mind when you write a certificate next time.

After having that mistake corrected, I moved on for the rest of the usual process: the snaps, fingerprints, signatures, and so on. When the procedure was complete, it was time to submit the documents along with my original CNIC (which was to be cancelled) and a Xerox of my disability certificate. But by the time my turn came, the photocopier had gone, so we had to submit the original copy, which would supposedly be delivered back to me with my new CNIC by post within a week.

However, after a month of waiting my father called the helpline but they said that no such cards were being processed at the time. After waiting another month, my father again called and was informed that my CNIC was at NADRA Malir office and could be picked up from there. My father took a day off from his job and went to Malir office, but found out that the CNICs had been sent to NADRA Awami Markaz, and a certain Kashif sahib was to be approached.

My father then went to Awami Markaz where that Kashif sahib told him the he did not have the CNIC and a Mansur sahib at Nadra Karsaz had it.

My father then went to Nadra Karsaz, and, much to his displeasure, found out that no Mansur worked there. My determined father took many laps of the labyrinth of offices but failed to find anybody who would help him. Finally, wearied, he requested someone behind a computer to check out my ID, who was gracious enough to do so and sent my father to an underground office in the building. It was there at long last, that my father finally got my CNIC. But when my father asked about my disability certificate, the answer he got was enough to understand that my disability certificate would not come to me, ever.

Despite the many “policies” of the government for the disabled in the country, their own offices dreadfully fail to uphold these policies.

Anyone who has been to Nadra knows of its deficiencies, and this is just another example. The government would do way better to stabilise the continuously falling graph of professionalism in their agencies and increase the standard of their work rather than utility and petroleum prices and save people’s identity from being destroyed at the hands of Nadra, rather than banning TV channels for destroying our cultural identity.

Uzair Ibrahim

Uzair Ibrahim

A student who enjoys music, movies and reading. He blogs about things that, in his view, shouldn't be accepted just as they are. Uzair tweets as @UzairIbrahim_ (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Salma

    your experince is about Karachi NADRA – in Islamabad it’s super efficient – so much that it’s unbelievable – Recommend

  • Sakina

    hey really nice blog.. sorry to hear about all that u and your dad had to go through.. but glad u finally have your CNIC now :)Recommend

  • baloch

    i had all the documents required to get my kids registered in Nadra but it took me 3 months to get my 4 kids CNIC from Nadra and all this 4 mohths we went from piller to post for the same. Recommend

  • Yasir Mehmood

    @Salma super efficient lol. I lost my ID card so had to apply for a new one. The token system they have at Islamabad office is brutal (had to arrive 1.5 hrs before opening time) and the process for issuing tokens started around 9:30 instead of 9:00 (opening time). I was the third person in line but when i entered inside (token is mandatory to enter inside) I found two dozen people already present inside who had used influence to get tokens after entering the premises and/or bribed the security guard outside. Prior they had another office nearby but now it is only issuing arms licences, perhaps due to impending elections.Recommend

  • Parvez

    …..and in frustration you say ‘To hell with it all, I’m leaving legally or illegally and going to Mongolia or wherever ‘ and our last Prime Minister said ” Who’s stopping you “…………and he failed to comprehend what actually he had said.
    So its not strange to read about your ordeal.Recommend

  • Zubair Ali

    You would not want to experience the utter chaos of the Nadra service in London. A system with flawed processes and poor communication at best. Zero customer handling experience and 3 months later I’m still waiting for the Nadra Nicop card which should have been here after 4 weeks. No responses to emails and phone calls from the support service either. Recommend

  • kHaN

    I paid Rs.5000 to the wandering ‘agent’ outside the NADRA office and the rest was done in twenty days. Recommend

  • Awais Khan

    Situation in Jeddah is accurate they give time of 3 months. And they fulfill their time commitment.Recommend

  • Pagall

    Last lines were gud for government peopleRecommend

  • Aley

    Awesome observation…….Recommend

  • Qazi

    Wellsaid Uzair like the way you give reply the NADRA officals .Recommend

  • Sanbrown

    Problem is that WE all blame. We never take actions. We easily give up even before the storm. Have you ever tried to deny to pay the bribe ? Never.
    I always resisted and got my work done. Also, my actions always put little shame in the persons concerned.
    Please stand up and rise to destiny instead sitting and talking bad about corrupts.Recommend

  • Aley

    Nice observation!Recommend

  • Alishah

    It’s Pakistan, u cn’t even complain………Recommend

  • Nwaq

    They simply have very poor management.My relative living in a village applied for an executive card in Tobe Tek Siingh and unnecessarily she told the lady who was processing her card about having one artificial eye.Later on when she got her card she was termed as blind.She was then told to apply for modification for the correction of the mistake that was done by Nadra and they got away with it and blamed my relative for giving wrong information. I was wondering it this is a situation after paying 1000 Rs what would be happening with ppl who are getting it for free after a along labour.Recommend

  • Shehrbanu

    Nice blog…nd this is Pakistan! You don’t get what u ask so easily specially at govt offices.Recommend

  • raza husnain

    nice blog & agree with Shehrbanu
    these things hapens in PAK!Recommend

  • Riz

    Sorry that you had to go through so much pain, but then again, I’ve read similar stories relating to ID documentation agencies in many parts of the world. Registering the entire population isn’t an easy task, to say the least. It gets worse in countries like Pakistan, where corruption and graft are everyday occurrences. I agree with the comment that we the citizens are also to blame. If we don’t encourage the agents roaming outside NADRA offices with such ventures, the whole practice would eventually cease to exist. But no, we’re always more concerned about our petty gains than the collective destruction that these evils are leading to.

    Just reading the fact that NADRA is catering to the disabled citziens and offering special registration melas for them is unheard of. I’m glad to know something like this functional at the government level. If anyone can quote any other organization that renders special services for its disabled citizens, I would love to find out.

    I also heard that NADRA reaches out to the children of unknown parentage with equal aspiration. Likewise, it caters to the eunuchs.

    Credit also goes to the organization for the immense services it is bestowing upon the country. As far as my understanding goes, NADRA is doing a lot more than just registration of citizens today. To quote one example, free and fair elections in Pakistan will only be possible for first time ever owing to NADRA. The organization was equally bent on providing voting rights to overseas Pakistanis, barring few restrictions which arose from ECP.

    Frankly, while I’m sorry for the bad experience of the author, I’m still very proud to claim having an organization that is doing so much good to the country. Bad customer service can happen anywhere, all around the world. But the mandate that is taking NADRA forward is something every citizen must be proud of.Recommend