It takes more than a few errors, underhanded deals and fake papers to get a foreign national appointed to the country’s Passport and Immigrations Department as Assistant Director – one would think that this would be close to impossible with the Interior Ministry’s diligent efforts to bring the offices of NADRA and the passport office in line with laws and procedures. However, this is exactly what happened, as Sher Ali, an Afghan national applied to the department for a position on the basis of fake credentials (a CNIC among them) and was selected over other more qualified candidates.

If a foreign national can be appointed to the Passport and Immigrations Department as Assistant Director, the influence from the position can be used to bring other foreigners to the country as well, perhaps even without the knowledge of the rest of the government. This is not to accuse the individual in question of any spurious motives – a thorough investigation should take place to find out the motive behind seeking this particular position – however, if one can escape scrutiny, others can as well.

This means that the Interior Ministry’s standard operating procedures (SOPs) on foreign nationals seeking jobs should be scrutinised, as should its own hiring mechanisms. This is not to exclude foreign nationals legally seeking employment in the country, however, certain government institutions need to be run by citizens of the country to protect national interest. The office that monitors immigration, citizenship and border movement is certainly on the top of this list.

The Interior Ministry has made a grand show of making the entry/exit points of the country safer, and improving the process of registration of citizenship in Pakistan. Repeated press conferences by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan have tried to assuage the public’s fear of the ease with which terrorists can penetrate the most secure parts of the country.

This is not without good reason; if the state cannot discern between Pakistani citizens and those only pretending to be, security agencies do not have the necessary information to keep the country safe. This oversight, appointing a foreign national to the federal Interior Ministry is testament to the efforts of this institution – the thing it is trying its hardest to prevent is happening right under its nose. Efforts to control NADRA have not yielded much. Greater vigilance is needed; and perhaps another review of the many SOPs and rules the Interior Minister has put into place.